Post-WWII growth

Sir George Paton
Sir George Paton, admitted to the degree of
Doctor of Laws honoris causa, 3 April 1971.
Photograph taken on the occasion of
being awarded an honorary degree.
Copyright owned by:
University of Melbourne Archives

The end of World War II saw the start of significant funding from the Australian government, supplementing the Law School's income from fees, donations and the Victorian government.

Over the next three decades, federal funding transformed the financing of the Law School and the University.

Sir George Whitecross Paton was Dean during Sir Kenneth Bailey's absence overseas in 1937 before taking over from 1943 to 1951.

Sir George played a large part in resolving a long-running struggle between the University and the Law Institute of Victoria over the content of the law course.

In 1951, Sir George resigned as Dean to become the University's Vice-Chancellor. He presided over the University's rapid expansion in the 1950s, with the help of increasing funding from the Federal government.

It paved the way for former student and later Professor of Public Law at the University Zelman Cowen, to step into the role.

After World War II, Dean Cowen later recalled: "During the years of the '50s, the Melbourne Law School was expanding, we were developing new programs, and in a very real sense establishing new horizons for Australian law schools".

Sir Zelman Cowen
Sir Zelman Cowen, admitted to the degree of
Doctor of Laws honoris causa, 14 April 1973.
Photograph taken on the occasion of
being awarded an honorary degree.
Copyright owned by:
University of Melbourne Archives

Dean Cowen used his contacts abroad to establish relationships with American law schools, fostering staff visits and postgraduate study for Melbourne graduates.

In 1961, rising enrolments forced the Law School (still the only avenue for entry to the legal profession in Victoria) to limit student numbers. In response, the Council of Legal Education opened an independent law school in 1962, and the Monash University Law School opened in 1964.

In 1986, the Asian Law Centre became the Law School's first research centre, headed by Professor Mal Smith, and developed into one of the largest teaching and research centres of its kind in the world.

By 1987, critical reviews of the Law School by the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission and the University led to internal renewal.

Amid rapid changes in the University and Australian higher education, staff election of the Dean ended, international students were invited to enrol, and a new graduate program attracted large numbers of students to masters and graduate diploma courses. However, as observed by the current Dean, Professor Carolyn Evans: "Preparing for the future begins with understanding and respecting the value of the past".