Five more questions before you graduate: Marcus Dahl

Marcus Dahl at an ANU event
"Law is challenging and complex. But if law is for you, then that will not matter" Marcus advised those considering law as a degree

I was intimidated at first in coming to law school, but whatever hesitation I had disappeared when I found myself in legal practice settings, supported by allies

Why did you decide to study law?

I once told someone that I didn’t want to study law because I wanted to challenge power, norms and unfair institutions, rather than participate in them. I explained that I wanted to help improve the lives of others, but that I didn’t know how to start on that path. That person told me that the answer may lie right before me. To play the game of societal change, I first had to learn the rules. The rules, both good and bad, come from law.

What was the best thing about your time at ANU College of Law?

Discovering that I was at home to learn, develop and to challenge myself in new ways. I was intimidated at first in coming to law school, but whatever hesitation I had disappeared when I found myself in legal practice settings, supported by allies, building myself up to be a lawyer. That included two placements in the Kimberley outback, for which I will forever be grateful.   

What would you say to someone who is thinking about studying law?

Law is challenging and complex. That is because our relationships with society, with the environment, and with each other are challenging and complex. The grades might not flow freely, and the concepts might take time to grasp. But if law is for you, then that will not matter. It is up to you to accept the task of understanding those relationships from a legal perspective. If you do, then clarity will come, and you will have nothing to fear.

How did winning a prize help you?

This might sound strange, but it got me laughing. There are a lot of strong personalities in law, and you can cop it from the doubters when you choose to do things differently or when you challenge their assumptions by standing up for what you believe in. These prizes affirmed for me that I’ve been doing just fine, and helped me laugh somewhat nostalgically about the critics from over the years. They can’t stop me now, and they never did!

What’s next?

A placement at the Constitutional Court of South Africa, learning about what a fleshed out constitution full of rights and protections really looks like!

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team