At 19 years old, Liuzhuo “Aletta” Chen is believed to be Australia’s youngest registered lawyer.
Chen was admitted to practice law in Victoria in August, making her the youngest graduate from the Leo Cussen Centre for Law in Victoria in its 40-year history.
She could also be the youngest lawyer ever registered in Australia, although officials have said verifying the latter would mean manually trawling through about 140 years’ worth of Supreme Court records.
Leo Cussen director of practical training Judith Dickson, said, “It seems extraordinary, but Miss Chen is very able as well as determined and hard-working.”
Chen started school just before she turned four when her parents realised she had a talent for memorising Chinese characters. She finished high school by 15 in China, and at 16 moved to Australia, learned English and enrolled at Bond University in Queensland to study law.
She didn’t mess around, completing her undergrad in just two and a half years before completing her legal training at the Leo Cussen Centre for Law, which counts former Prime Minister Julia Gillard as former students.
“It is definitely an honour and a privilege to become a legal practitioner. As for my age, I feel fortunate to have started school earlier than my peers. But from my prospective, it’s not exactly a great accomplishment. However, it feels good to have a head start,” Chen said.
Chen said she was happy to leave China but it took a while to settle into her new life in Australia. After finishing her accelerated law degree she made the move to Melbourne because she “wanted more challenges.”
With her name now added to the roll, Chen hopes to have a career in international trade law and with English and Mandarin speaking skills, local knowledge of both economies and a possible free trade agreement in the works she could be well placed.
“I look forward to experiencing more through life experience and achieving more along the way,” Chen said.
On whether Chen is the youngest person to be admitted into legal practice, Deborah Jones, Registrar at the Council of Legal Education & Board of Examiners said “the event was incredible and she could not imagine that there would have been anybody younger.”