The first students have begun classes in UNSW's new Juris Doctor (JD) program, representing a new era in legal education.
The JD is an exclusively postgraduate degree for people who have completed degrees in disciplines other than law.
The internationally recognised program leads to admission to legal practice and gives students the opportunity to combine their studies at UNSW with courses at partner universities around the world. It also offers a wide variety of out-of-classroom learning options such as legal clinics, public interest and social justice internships, and international mooting competitions.
Significantly, the majority of places in the program are government supported, attracting high calibre candidates.
With an average age of 28, the inaugural intake of students comes from all walks of life: engineers, journalists, doctors, accountants, teachers, pharmacists, architects, social workers, and military officers.
More than a third (37%) has postgraduate qualifications including PhD and Master degrees in areas from public health to music, psychology to commerce, and development studies to criminology.
Dean of the Faculty of Law Professor David Dixon said unlike JD programs at other universities, the mix of Commonwealth-supported and full-fee places maintained a commitment to equity. The program is approved by the federal government for student income support.
"This is a truly exceptional group of students," Professor Dixon said. "Studying law among such a wonderfully diverse range of people will enrich the experience of all students in the UNSW JD."
Addressing the commencing class, former Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Gerard Brennan, spoke about the benefits of having an earlier degree before commencing legal studies.
"One of the great advantages of coming to law as a postgraduate student is the prospect of a professional life enriched by a broad range of interests and a wider experience of the human condition.
"Some of the finest lawyers have come to the law after pursuing other fields of intellectual activity," he said.
To see a transcript of Sir Gerard's welcome address go to the Faculty of Law website.
Media contact: Steve Offner | 02 9385 8107 | firstname.lastname@example.org