It's been more than a decade since Matt Ward graduated from the University of Wollongong with a degree in law.
Starting out as a junior solicitor in a local firm, he is now one of the south coast's leading criminal lawyers, with multiple industry accolades to his name and an impressive list of clients that includes the likes of controversial property developer Salim Mehajer.
And while it didn't take Mr Ward long to climb the corporate ladder - he was appointed a partner at Wollongong's most prominent criminal firm, Morrisons Law, in 2018 - he has never forgotten the institution that set him on the road to success.
In 2019, Mr Ward launched the Morrison's Moot competition at UOW, offering law students with an interest in courtroom advocacy work the chance to refine their skills and test their abilities in a mock trial situation in front of industry heavyweights including barristers Carolyn Davenport, SC, Sharyn Hall and Craig Smith.
However, Morrisons has gone a step further this year in supporting the next generation of aspiring advocates, setting up a $10,000 advocacy scholarship.
Titled the 'Work Integrated Learning Scholarship', the recipient will receive a mix of financial assistance and on-the-job work experience and mentoring from the Morrisons Law solicitors.
"University teaches many important skills, a number of which are applicable to the practice of criminal law, however, in our experience, nothing can compare with learning and experiencing the practice of criminal law in real life," Mr Ward said.
"Whilst students may have an idea of what criminal law is like and what it involves, it can be quite different when they are confronted with actual cases and court appearances.
"Starting work as a lawyer, in any field, can be a daunting and scary experience. We hope this process will provide some assistance to aspiring criminal lawyers in the early part of their careers."
Mr Ward, who graduated from UOW in 2011, admits he would have "jumped" at the opportunity to apply for a scholarship like the one his firm has put together when he was a student.
"When I was studying, I don't recall there ever being a criminal law scholarship, especially not one where you could actually spend time in a criminal law firm," he said.
"We feel that it is the duty of current solicitors to mentor and help the next generation of criminal lawyers and we hope that with this scholarship, we can play a small part in that," he said.
The successful applicant will help the Morrisons team prepare cases for trials, hearings and sentences, as well as attending court to see the law in action.
Visit scholarships.uow.edu.au for more information.