While most of us were flailing our way through Foundations of Law at 18-years-old, Jozef Borja-Erece was busy becoming the youngest person to graduate from the University of Southern Queensland when he graduated with a law degree. His Wikipedia page names him as the ‘youngest solicitor in the Southern Hemisphere and the youngest law graduate in Australian history.’ Those aren’t the only titles Jozef claims as the ‘youngest’. At the age of 13, he also became the youngest taekwondo instructor in New Zealand. #Overachiever.
Speaking to Survive Law, Jozef drops some serious pearls of wisdom about law school life, what someone could possibly do with a law degree at 18, and most importantly, answers the quintessential law student question: Is Jozef a Suits fan?
Firstly, do you watch Suits (or any other legal dramas)? If so, who is your favourite character and why?
I don't actually watch Suits, but I have seen a number of Silk episodes and personally took a liking to the Martha Costello persona. From what I saw of the series, she came across as a character who was always guided by her moral compass even under context of the cab-rank rule, and a character who was never disillusioned by the professional pressures and predicaments which always seemed to threaten to pull her down as a person. I find that admirable because I think everyone can relate to encountering situations where they find the righteous path to be the narrowest one. Under any context, I believe it's extremely important that our humanity is never compromised or sacrificed in pursuit of result and reward, and from what I saw, Costello as a character admirably embodied that sentiment.
If you could do complete your law degree again, what would you change or improve?
If I could go through law school again, I would honestly read a lot more beyond the prescribed readings. What university students in general tend to take for granted is that they are in the centre of learning every single day. A certain Twain quote comes to mind, "don't let schooling interfere with your education." Too often we find ourselves singularly focused on the goal of attaining that perfect course mark, and that usually comes at the cost of other learning opportunities. I suppose I would just constantly keep in mind that valuable knowledge doesn't begin and end with the assessed course content.
What is the greatest investment you believe a law student can make in themselves?
I definitely believe that the greatest investment a law student (or any student in general) can make is time to really discover why they're doing what they're or doing, or learning what they're learning. What's the dream that you're setting out to fulfill, or the real motivation behind all of the work you put in? I think it's really important that people (students especially) provide themselves with a convincing "why," and stay true to that purpose. If your "why" isn't convincing or satisfying to you, then perhaps setting aside some significant time to find a purpose which is convincing to you is warranted, as opposed to toiling away all of your days only to find yourself discontent and miserable at the journey's end. The long, tiring hours you put into your craft become much easier to cope with when they're existentially justified to you.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
At this point in time, working towards the fast-approaching launch of my company, Starlight Legacies, and other aspects of the corporate model, every day (and night) looks like a lot of networking, a lot of coding, a lot of idea exchange, a lot of research, a lot of writing, a lot of thought genesis, and the non-stop application of everything I've learned. It's tiring, but I find that there's beauty in every aspect of the process of working towards something worthwhile.
What is your favourite quote and why?
For me, it's impossible to pick a favourite line out of all the literature I've ever had the pleasure of reading because there are just so many valuable sentiments out there that have been expressed in writing. I suppose if I had to pick, though, I would choose either of the following two (see, I really can't pick!) because they succinctly and transparently state some very important ideas -
"You can't know, you can only believe - or not." - C.S. Lewis
"The souls of people are not measured by what they have done, but by what they leave behind." - Anonymous
The quote from C.S. Lewis is important on an epistemological and self-awareness level, and the quote from an anonymous source is important because it provides a nice context for life and ties in well with what I expressed earlier on the great importance of having a purpose which you personally feel is worthwhile. That second quote is also actually at the very heart of Starlight Legacies, so rest assured, it's personally significant to me at this point in time.
Finally, what is your one piece of golden advice for students?
Appreciate and soak in every moment. The present becomes the past in a blink, and no two days are ever the same.