How the law comes alive at Australian National University (ANU) College of Law

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After graduating from a business administration degree in Macau, Sam Xin sought to find an international experience that would further enrich his education and future. The Australian National University (ANU) College of Law was his top choice.

Xin felt that studying law in-depth at one of the best universities in Australia would be the perfect complement to his business studies. “I understood that doing business would require law as a foundation, because everyone needs to understand the importance of compliance. In other words, you need to understand how to play by the rules,” says Xin, who graduated with a Master of Applied Finance and a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from ANU.

“I need to have strong legal knowledge to carry out my business in the future and understand what is required so I can use my own in-house legal counsel to complete it,” he adds.

ANU College of Law

International students like Sam Xin thrive in the supportive environment of ANU College of Law and the student-friendly atmosphere of Canberra. Source: The Australian National University College of Law

The ANU College of Law International Merit Scholarship winner credited the outstanding faculty and world-class legal education for challenging him to think outside of the box. “I had to think deeper with law compared to finance and accountancy, which are mathematically-driven. You can figure out numbers, but legal studies need extensive logical analysis. You’re presented with a 20 page-long case that is complicated, and must analyse the legal implications,” he says.

Learn from the best at Australia’s national law school

Xin’s experience is a testament to why Canberra has been dubbed as the “clever capital” of Australia, and why ANU plays a crucial part in that reputation. The university consistently ranks among the best universities nationally and globally, and ANU College of Law is one of the top five law schools in the country. ANU is the only university established by the Parliament of Australia, and its close connection with the country’s administrative centre spills into the legal curriculum.

The ANU College of Law offers a suite of postgraduate programs, including a Master of Laws (LLM), Master of International Law and Diplomacy, Master of Financial Management and Law and the Juris Doctor. Students can choose to pursue Graduate Certificates in Law and New Technologies Law as well, which can be pathways into the LLM programme.

Specialisations in Public Law and International Law allow students to deepen their knowledge in key aspects of the justice system, either within Australia or across its borders. As the national law school, ANU College of Law has unparalleled access to Canberra’s legal and political institutions to provide a dynamic first-hand encounter with the law.

For lawyers-in-training, this means attending classes taught by visiting Federal Court judges, and participating in study excursions to the Parliament House and the High Court. There’s also the option to intern in government departments, national institutions, and even at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, the global seat of international law.

Reality over reading

It’s the thinking that sets students at the ANU College of Law a class above others. Here, the phrase “reading the law” goes beyond studying legal textbooks and mock cross-examinations. The law comes to the classroom as it is: real and unfiltered. Students actively engage with ongoing cases through lively discussions with their peers and professors. Contemporary cases are analysed from multiple perspectives, while also respecting the lived experiences of claimants and victims.

Such is the style of teaching employed by Associate Professor Wayne Morgan, who is the Associate Dean of Education at ANU College of Law. Considered internationally to be a pioneer in the field of queer legal theory, his extensive research and advocacy work have directly impacted legislative reforms and improved the outcomes for sexual minorities in areas such as the decriminalisation of sodomy, HIV discrimination, and sex work.

Drawing on his breadth of expertise in real-life cases, Associate Professor Morgan tries to bring a slice of reality into his classes. “I don’t think just talking to students is a good way to get them involved, so we have lots of really useful discussions in class,” he says. “As well as discussions, my teaching style involves having guest speakers, particularly those who may be members of the [LGBT] community, and have their own stories to tell about what it has been like for them living in a world that doesn’t always accept them.”

ANU College of Law

Students learn from the best legal experts who have made ground-breaking research in their respective fields at ANU College of Law. Source: The Australian National University College of Law

Law isn’t just about hard facts, however, and ANU graduates know this well through their training. “I think it’s important for lawyers to understand the communities that they work with, and also to develop a sense of empathy,” he adds. The experiential opportunities afforded to future lawyers here allow them to cultivate an empathetic framework to approach the people they’re helping.

Whether you’re into business or commercial law, public and administrative law, or international human rights, you can deepen your understanding in a particular area by taking elective courses or focusing on a specialisation. It’s part of what makes ANU College of Law graduates flexible and adaptive, enabling them to acclimatise to any legal context and make ethical judgments.

Confidence, says Associate Professor Morgan, is the key to adaptability for any aspiring lawyer. To do that, the ANU College of Law’s all-encompassing legal education arms its graduates with knowledge and skills that will help them adjust to whatever legal environment they might find themselves in. This is especially important considering the diversity of the student body, who come from various cultures with different laws, values, and customs.

“We find that the cultural diversity within our student body really brings something important to our courses and to the study of law,” he observes. “We have a particular law reform and social justice ethos, which we scaffold throughout all the degrees. We try to not only make students think about what it really means to be an ethical lawyer, but also the ability to be able to reflect upon their own ethical standards.”

This reason alone is why graduates from ANU College of Law come from various countries, who then go on to practise law in Australia, or return home to spark trailblazing reforms while adeptly meeting the world’s biggest policy needs and challenges. Pursuing your legal studies at ANU is not just a transformative experience, but also a lesson on what it means to be humane.

To find out more about your options at Australia’s premier law school, click here.

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