Professor Sawer was born in Burma in 1910 and his family moved to Australia in 1913 where he attended State Schools and Scotch College. He studied law at Melbourne University and on graduation with his LL.M. in 1934 he was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in Victoria and of the High Court. His academic career began in 1934 when he was a resident tutor in law at Ormond College. During World War II Professor Sawer was the officer in charge of short-wave broadcasts from Australia to Japan and Japanese occupied territories. In 1946 he returned to Melbourne University as a senior lecturer in law and was then appointed associate professor in 1948. Professor Sawer has held many positions at the Australian National University. In 1950 he was appointed the first Professor of Law in the Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS). Between 1951 and 1956 he was Dean of RSSS and during 1973 and 1974 he was appointed Acting Director. During the twenty-five years he spent in RSSS he was appointed to various ANU positions, including Chairman of the Board of the Institute of Advanced Studies (1970) and Chairman of the Advisers on Legislation. In 1975 he accepted the position of Pro Vice-Chancellor and retired from this position at the end of that year. During his academic career Sawer received a number of national and international honours and appointments in recognition of his position as one of the foremost legal scholars in Australia. The title of Emeritus Professor was conferred on him on his retirement and he accepted the offer of a Visiting Fellowship in the Faculty of Law at ANU to teach constitutional law.