Humans of ANU Law: Associate Professor Molly Townes O’Brien

Molly O'Brien

Molly Townes O’Brien is an Associate Professor at ANU College of Law.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself including what brought you to ANU.

I came to ANU from the US, following Associate Professor Charley Lineweaver, who is an astronomer/astrophysicist. I had been a lawyer since 1986 and had taught law since 1997.

2. What do you enjoy most about working at the ANU College of Law?

I most enjoy the classes and the students. I also enjoy working on research and doing writing.

3. What is your favourite spot on campus?

I enjoy the walks to and from my classes, my office and my car. ANU is terrific everywhere.

4. How do you relax away from university?

I run, swim or ride a bike. I also play the guitar and sing.

5. How would you describe Canberra in three words?

Park with everything

6. What inspired you to pursue academia?

I was a Public Defender in the US. When I had a client who had chronic non-treatable tuberculosis, I realised that my job could be dangerous for my small children at home. I liked doing defence, but I didn’t want to bring any diseases home. I had also done extensive research while working for a justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. I knew I would enjoy academic work.

7. What was your dream job as a child?

I dreamed of being a ballet dancer. I had to give that idea up because my feet were all wrong for it.

8. If you could meet one historical figure, who would it be?

I would like to meet Ben Franklin and ask him lots of questions

9. Who’s your favourite fictional character?

Charlotte, the barn spider in Charlotte’s Webb, because she is thoughtful and creative, works hard, and writes well

10. What’s a project or hobby you’re currently working on that motivates you?

I am working on revising a book about recovering from a coma and writing a book about free will. Those two projects keep me going.

11. What’s your favourite quote?

Lyrics from "Please Don’t Bury Me" by John Prine:

Give my feet to the footloose
Careless, fancy free
Give my knees to the needy
Don't pull that stuff on me
Hand me down my walking cane
It's a sin to tell a lie
Send my mouth way down south
And kiss my a** goodbye

12. What’s the secret to working from home successfully?

Making sure to get out and get some exercise.

13. Who is someone you look up to?

I’m pretty short, so I have to look up to almost everybody.

14. What was the last book you read?

Theogony by Hesiod

15. What’s an underrated movie?

I liked Just Mercy (2019) and I haven’t heard many people talking about it.

16. What’s your favourite dish?

Pasta a la carbonara

17. What’s your favourite place in Canberra to visit?

I like to run around Mount Arawang, so I guess that makes it my favourite place to visit

18. What’s your favourite song or playlist to work to?

I do academic work without music. When I am cooking, I play an ITunes genius mix of folk, country or blues.

19. What’s a skill you’d like to learn?

I’d like to learn to play the banjo. Having a banjo would help

20. What advice would you give to others feeling uneasy during this time?

Remember to exercise and wash your hands.

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