Paula Zito’s (’91) career in Law and her appreciation for her Loreto education and experience

To kick-start our Old Scholar Stories for 2020, LOSA would like to recognise Paula Zito (’91) and her incredible educational and career journey since starting at Loreto in 1979, which led her to study, practice and teach Law. This eventually led Paula to undertake her Doctorate of Law in the area of regional branding of food products, which was driven by her passion for both the food industry and the continuous development of the Australian law.

Paula in her own words:

My time at Loreto College began in 1979, when I commenced Year 1 in Mrs Shelley’s class. She was a beautiful introduction to my years at Loreto: nurturing, engaging and encouraging, qualities that all of my teachers demonstrated towards me throughout my twelve years at Loreto. My parents chose Loreto for my sister, Nancy Rodi (nee Timpano) – old scholar (’83) and teacher and Leader of Religious Education at Loreto senior school since 1993 – because it was down the road from where we lived. However, throughout my years at Loreto, I realised that my parents had provided me with an amazing education at a school that taught me more than just the compulsory subjects. My time at Loreto taught me valuable life qualities that endorsed those that I was taught at home, such as confidence, independence, and an inquisitiveness to learn more and to make a positive contribution to my community.

After graduating from Loreto in 1991, I took a gap year, worked part time and travelled to Europe with my family. For me, having a gap year was a fantastic opportunity to refresh before commencing my Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts at The University of Adelaide. I knew by the end of Year 11 that I wanted to study Law as I had been exposed to the legal system, care of my father who established the Interpreting and Translating Service for South Australia. Having watched dad interpret in court, I was fascinated by the legal system and saw being a lawyer as an opportunity to contribute to my wider community. I graduated from University in 1998 and went straight into my first job as a lawyer at Donaldson Walsh Lawyers, before becoming an Associate at Minter Ellison Lawyers and then a Senior Associate at DW Fox Tucker. My practice areas were, and continue to be, Commercial Law and Intellectual Property and my passion is in this latter area, specialising in brand protection of products, particularly of food and wine. During this period, I also married my husband Roy and had two children, Jake and Stella. They are the loves of my life.

Driven to contribute to my wider community, in 2009 I commenced teaching Law at The University of Adelaide Law School. I gladly took on the challenge of helping students understand the complexities of the Law and developing their analytical skills and critical thinking. The reward in seeing students have their ‘light bulb’ moments when they understand what I am teaching them about the Law is second to none.

Inquisitive to keep learning more, in 2013 I applied to undertake my Doctorate in Law with The University of Adelaide in the area of regional branding of food products. My dissatisfaction with Australian laws and regulations that attempt to regulate when food producers and traders can use regional names on food labels, to imply that a food product originates from that region, drove me to research relevant Australian laws and regulations in this area. I undertook research and fieldwork in South Australia as well as comparative research and fieldwork in Italy in order to better understand European laws in this area and determine what I could learn from them. I successfully completed my PhD in November 2017, and The University of Adelaide conferred my Doctorate in March 2018.

Since that time, I have continued to teach part time at The University of Adelaide Law School as well as consult with Australian food industry and government in relation to my recommendations for a new food Geographical Indications framework. I am extremely passionate about contributing to the development of Australian law and the food industry by recommending and working on a new legal framework that will regulate and protect the connection between Australian regional food and origin and the assets that we have in Australian regional names.

I am very proud to be Loreto and am grateful to have been educated at a school that inspired me to be a strong, passionate and confident young woman. It provided me with the foundation to go out into the world and make a positive contribution, impact and difference.