Forget the idea of studying law being just lecture theatres, tutorials and textbooks – today’s law student is just as likely to build their knowledge by seeing the ‘law in action’ through internships, international exchanges, work placements and voluntary participation.
That’s the message coming from the ANU College of Law as it prepares for Open Day this weekend, with Dean of the College, Professor Stephen Bottomley, saying many law degrees now included a considerable focus on ensuring students were given opportunities to see the law beyond a text book, and understand how it affects people’s lives.
“The days of legal education being solely focused on lectures, tutorials and 3,000-word essays are long gone,” said Professor Bottomley.
“Today’s law degree includes clinical programs, internships and other opportunities to help ensure students are exposed to how law works – or doesn’t – in day-to-day settings.
“Depending on what they’re studying, this might see students spending time working or volunteering in law firms, community legal centres and other organisations involved in law and justice, and experiencing how law can act as a force for social change.”
Professor Bottomley said many prospective students were often surprised about what studying law involved, and Open Day provided an ideal opportunity to speak with current students and staff about what a law degree involves, and the development and career opportunities offered by it.
“Often, it can be difficult to gain a clear understanding of what it’s like to study law at university by simply reading a brochure or visiting a website.“In the ANU College of Law, for example, we offer five ‘core’ law degrees, but allow students to specialise in specific areas such as international or environmental law, or travel overseas to spend a semester at law schools in the USA, UK or Europe,” said Professor Bottomley.
In addition to enabling students to specialise in a particular field, Professor Bottomley said students could bring together their various interests by combining law with other disciplines.
“The majority of undergraduate students in the ANU College of Law are studying a flexible double degree, combining their LLB with a second degree in areas such as business, economics, international policy and science.
“Through a flexible double degree, students gain the best of both worlds – a foundation for a career in law and the ability to access diverse opportunities in many other fields,” said Professor Bottomley.
And while Open Days were often seen as something just for secondary school students, Professor Bottomley said they were an excellent starting point for anyone considering studying law at university, now or in the years to come.
"It doesn't matter whether you’re in Year 10, 11 or 12, have already completed your undergraduate degree, or are thinking about returning to study after many years in the workforce – Open Day provides valuable information for everyone, no matter their age, background or level of experience.
“This includes finding out what studying law involves, what services and support are available for students, and for those students considering Masters or graduate qualifications in law, how you can balance study with work, family and other commitments.”
ANU Open Day takes place on Saturday 30 August from 9am to 4pm.