Robert Petch

'I now really enjoy hearing what people with differing opinions have to say...'

  • Robert Petch

Studying towards a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Music

Drum teacher, Marshland and Ilam Schools

With ambitions towards a rewarding career in the law sector, Robert’s study with UC has set him on the path to understanding criminal behaviour and seeing justice served to both victims and offenders.

‘As a lawyer, especially a criminal lawyer where much of what you do has a huge impact on a number of people’s lives, I hope that my work will be meaningful,’ he says.

Law was ‘a perfect fit’ as someone who enjoys public speaking and the challenges of problem solving.

‘Law has also taught me to better understand the other side’s point of view, I now really enjoy hearing what people with differing opinions to my own have to say and being able to talk about issues in a much fairer and more intelligent way.’

Adding an Arts degree gave Robert an extra background exploring behavioural patterns and change that can lead to criminal offences.

‘I added Psychology into the mix in the hope that it would shed some light on why people do the things they do – I believe this is something that those working in the criminal justice system should always strive to understand.’

‘The BA also allows me to incorporate Music into my studies and keep my playing up to scratch, meaning I can continue to play with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.’

Getting to remain a part of the Christchurch music scene was one of the incentives to study at UC, including getting an Undergraduate Entrance Scholarship for his NCEA results. Robert has been able to teach the drums to primary school children to support his study, which he says has been ‘a great way for me to share what I have learnt during my many years of musical study’.

Clubs involvement has also been one of Robert’s favourite parts of UC, as one of the founding members of Curry Soc creating their design marketing, and an active member of the Student Volunteer Army and Lawsoc.

‘I tend to go to most of the social events that Lawsoc hosts and this year I am getting involved in their competitions programme by competing in both client interviewing and negotiations,’ he says.

The best experience he has had so far from uni, however, was being one of 16 student ambassadors accepted into the US Leadership Tour in 2017, involving a trip across multiple destinations around the USA.

‘During my time in the United States, I was fortunate enough to meet a wide range amazing people: from lawyers seeking to bring justice to those who have suffered extreme human rights atrocities, Helen Clark at the United Nation Development Programme, and United States Senate staff to New Zealand Trade Commissioners and Kiwi Fulbright Scholars studying at prestigious Ivy League universities.’

As part of the Tour, Robert also took part in the world’s biggest Model UN with the Harvard National Model UN Conference, representing New Zealand and UC.

‘This trip would not have been possible without the extremely generous support of both UC Law and UC Arts,’ he says.

One of the most invaluable things he gained from this opportunity was exposure to the multiple career pathways Law can offer, from global policies to corporate law, which has opened up a lot of goals for Robert’s own future.

‘A law degree can lead to much more than just being a practicing lawyer, it is a great tool for unlocking deeper levels of critical thinking and analysis which are desirable skills for many different career pathways.

‘I see myself working in the criminal justice field, ideally as a Crown Prosecutor. Though to get a more holistic understanding of the system though I plan to work in the Police and perhaps as a defence lawyer before moving onto prosecution.’

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