Take a glimpse into the lives of the people within the Melbourne Law School.
Anna Francesca Belgiorno Nettis – JD Student
"I’ve always had a love of art. Prior to studying law I worked in contemporary and modern art museums. The absolute highlights were working in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Although I loved working in the Arts, I was missing the logical challenge and stimulation that I knew I could get from university studies. To me law was the perfect way to combine my love of language with that search for an intellectual challenge. What law has that’s really fascinating to me is a mix of both logic and a study that is deeply reliant on language and the meaning of language."
Ian Malkin – Academic
"I flew straight from Canada to my job at Melbourne Law School 30 years ago. The great Torts scholar Harold Luntz was the Dean at the time. He picked me up at the airport and invited me for lunch. I’m thinking, “I’ve just come off a 30-hour flight. I can hardly keep my eyes open let alone think straight and be polite. Ok. Sounds like fun”. There were 25 people at lunch, half of whom I swear were named Robert or Sue, like something out of Monty Python (except they weren’t named ‘Bruce’). After lunch the Dean introduced me to the law school registrar, who took me on a university tour. The first place he took me was to the underground carpark. I’m thinking, “what kind of eerie, rather weird place have I come to?” He explained that Mad Max was filmed there. I was meant to be impressed, but I was just astonished that the beginning of the tour was a car park. And it was all kind of lost on me, not having ever heard of Mad Max."
Alex Holland – JD Student
"Last year, I started a blog, Defying Disability, to open people’s eyes to the social barriers that exist in Australia for people living with a disability. Growing up with a disability, you accept that the world was not built for you and you may become complacent when it comes to your rights. Melbourne Law School helped me overcome this complacency and I now advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. MLS has taught me to be a better writer, a better person and a better advocate. I hope to pursue a career in fighting for the rights of people with disabilities."
Luke Chircop – JD student
"I am studying law because I see it as a powerful vehicle for domestic social change, particularly in the human rights space. I doubt there has been a time in Australia’s history where fundamental rights were being abrogated more willingly than they are now. Refugees are detained offshore arbitrarily and indefinitely, and the threat of terrorism is cited consistently as a justification for violating basic privacy rights. It is by understanding the legal framework and institutions that permit these abuses to occur that I hope to be able to effect change in them. Baseball is a good excuse to get out of the library a few times a week. Success in Baseball relies on working effectively in a team. The whole must be greater than the sum of its parts. Similarly, I see the law as a collaborative endeavour. Lawyers who are willing to ‘pass the ball’ and work together will invariably be better placed."
Eleni Angeletos – JD Student
"My parents came from migrant and working families and never had the opportunity to study beyond high school. For me, they always highlighted the importance of studying and establishing independence. Also, I think my Greek background has partly shaped the way I view the law. I have a lot of empathy for migrants and people from other cultures. Many migrants can’t speak English well or feel vulnerable because they are unaware of their rights. My parents were the same. I’d like to work with people who may not be able to afford legal advice and pursue a career in helping vulnerable people through promotion of social justice."
Holly Watson-Reeves – JD student
"I’m a legal intern at Parks Victoria, and I’m really interested in environmental psychology and environmental law. I started a project at Melbourne Law School called Classroom Botanica, which builds off an incredible body of research that demonstrates how important natural settings can be for our wellbeing. As law students, we're under a lot of pressure and spend the majority of our time inside. My idea was to bring the benefits of outdoor environments inside, with indoor plants. The library has been a focus space for the project, but I'd love to see it expanded to every lecture theatre and classroom in the building."
Jeannie Paterson – Academic
“One of my favourite things about working at Melbourne Law School is the graduation ceremonies each year. I still get a thrill from seeing students I have known throughout their degree stepping out as a JD graduate. I studied at ANU and lectured at Monash before joining MLS. I came for the JD model and the great student teaching opportunities on offer, as well as the intellectual rigor of the Obligations Group.
My kids think the main reason I go to work is for the great coffee spots. I will admit it’s certainly one of the perks of working at the law school. What I haven’t told them though is the reason I drive them to sporting games is to continue my search for the best coffee in Melbourne.”
Kalia Laycock-Walsh – JD Student
“For my undergraduate degree in International Studies I exchanged to China and Germany. I had a fantastic experience so it was natural step to investigate the options for international study in the JD. As a result I’m heading off to study law at Oxford. I see it as an opportunity to be part of a rich tradition of learning that dates back 800 years. I also get the impression that it is extremely hard work. I hope to have an interesting and enriching experience at an amazing university and meet interesting, bright, inspired people. When I first get there, I have to buy an academic robe. You have to wear it to all these official events. But first I’ll go and get a pint at Turf Tavern, a pub from 1381, where Bob Hawke used to drink when he was at Oxford.”
Stephanie Morley – JD student
"When I told my parents I was going to do law they weren’t that excited. They told me we needed a mechanic in the family more than a lawyer. Obviously, I ignored their advice. I’m really glad I did. Through the JD I’ve had amazing opportunities to work with high school students, public interest organisations like Youthlaw and Melbourne City Mission, and realised I love torts and anti-discrimination law. Three years ago I wouldn’t have been able to picture any of those things. Mum - I am sorry I can’t be a mechanic. Please love me anyway."
Charlotte Tooke – JD Student
"I believe problem solving in the law is inherently creative. I am passionate about contemporary dance, and have continued to teach and train throughout my time at Melbourne Law School. For me, dance and the law have allowed for the perfect balance of intellectual, creative and athletic pursuits. My friends and teachers have been inspiring, supportive and grounding during my time at the Law School. A favourite professor, Bruce ‘Oz’ Oswald, has always emphasised that relationships are the most important aspect of any pursuit. I often think back to this advice, seeking to maintain a balance and prioritising what is important to me.
Georgia Westbrook – JD student
"I’ve loved studying law and all the opportunities that come with it. Having moved from Perth to study at Melbourne Law School, I’ve tried to take up as many experiences as possible, including studying international law in Geneva, volunteering at a community legal centre, and taking part in the Law School’s mentor program. I’d say to any future law students – make sure you make time for your other interests and hobbies. I prioritise spending time outside of the Law School with family and friends, catching up for coffee, playing the piano and travelling back to Perth to spend time at the beach. This balance has meant I enjoy the Law School and my studies even more, energising me to make the most of my time here."
Thomas Wu – JD Student
“Being part of the tight-knit and diverse community at Melbourne Law School not only encourages me to aim higher and work harder, but also provides for a collegiate and supportive environment where many of my peers have also ended up as my closest friends. I came to the Law School with a h3 interest in international law. I've had amazing opportunities to engage with international law throughout the past three years academically, vocationally, and through mooting competitions. Outside of law, I have a real interest in superhero movies. I feel like we're going through a Golden Age of superhero movies that we may only come to appreciate years from now.“
Sheilla Ngira – Masters Student
“As a young girl I remember looking up to lawyers and thinking what they did was inspiring. From that moment on I dreamed of being a lawyer and studying law at Melbourne is helping make that a reality. My most memorable moment so far has been speaking to the mid-year law masters students during their orientation week. I had to draw upon my own experience during the first semester to prepare my speech and it was then that I realised how much I had learnt in my time at Melbourne Law School and how much more I still want to learn. “
Mohamed Khairat – JD Student
“What I worry about the most is being stuck in a routine and eventually burning out. Managing Egyptian Streets, a news media organisation, while completing my Juris Doctor studies at Melbourne Law School and working various part-time jobs scares me to an extent. That’s why I try to find time in my day for just myself and the people I care about. Whether it’s trying out a new burger place (my favourite pastime currently), catching a new movie at the cinema with friends, or simply playing video-games and staying under the covers all day, taking a break from reality changes you from the robot you’ve had to become to a human.“
Rachel Walters – JD Student
"Despite a lifelong love of arguing, it didn’t occur to me to study law until recently, and I certainly never thought I could be a barrister. I was terrified of public speaking, but when I came here I forced myself to give the oral advocacy competitions a go and ironically they’ve been some of my best experiences at law school. There’s something so frustrating yet satisfying about mooting — picking apart the facts of a problem and spending hours researching until you finally find that one precedent that you can wrangle to support your argument. And being able to present your case in front of actual judges is great practical experience."
Cheryl Saunders – Academic
"I’m a comparative constitutional lawyer, which means I’m interested in the way systems of government work across the world. My research interest is to ensure as far as possible that I have a global focus, rather than considering just a few countries. That is challenging, but it’s also something that is assisted by being at Melbourne Law School because we have such a wide range of staff and students and such a variety of perspectives. I’m lucky to have a beautiful outlook from my office, over University Square, towards the old campus. Mind you the Law School has a beautiful outlook from huge windows on all sides of the building. I remember when the law school was built the then Dean, Michael Crommelin, said that this is a law school deliberately built to look outwards. Each side of the building looks out to the horizon over a spectacular part of Melbourne. It’s a great observation and it suits this Law School perfectly."
Jeremy Roe – JD Student
"Law school is an inspiring place for the intellectually curious who are prepared to go the extra mile. When you know the law, you become a problem-solver. I have used administrative law to advocate for improved animal welfare; the Australian Consumer Law to get out of a contract; and engaged in wealth and succession-planning through the law of trusts. At MLS, I have the opportunity to solve the problems that fascinate me. Since I arrived, I have been motivated by my bright, driven cohort and feel energised by our mutual interests and conversations. To future students I would say that law students don't whinge; they advocate."
Alexandra Harrison-Ichlov – JD Student
"As a classically trained vocalist, the sort of discipline you need as a musician or vocalist is actually really useful as a law student. For mooting, it’s helped me immensely as I would get the exact same stage fright before a moot as I would before a singing performance. So I often treat a moot like a performance. I prepare the same way, doing the warm ups and "reading my lines". Once I get up there, it’s like I’m getting my little moment on stage, which is why I've been so attracted to mooting as an extracurricular activity since commencing the JD. It's important to learn how to combat the nerves, but knowing how much I've prepared for the moot, just like I would have for a performance as a musician, is what motivates me"
Tania Voon – Academic
"Teaching Institutions in International Law in Geneva and Global Lawyer in Washington each year with Bruce Oswald and Andrew Mitchell gives me the chance to really get to know a group of students at Melbourne Law School. These students inspire me, and remind me of the best parts of life and the law. Beyond the law school, I like going to the gym, reading novels and spending time with my young children."
Michael Evans – JD Student
"For the past 10 years, I have been umpiring. To me it’s a break from studying the Juris Doctor. However, even though I try to escape the law and its complexities, I often find myself drawn back because of umpiring, where we have to apply the AFL’s “laws of the game.” As umpires, we have to interpret the rules, a thing which there is always a controversy about. Unlike judges, who often have a lot more time to interpret the rules, we have to make a decision whether a rule has been breached in a split second while the match is being played."
Olga Nazha – JD Student
"Having parents that migrated to Australia because of the Lebanese civil war somewhat puts into perspective the many struggles that individuals fleeing war-torn countries face. Comparing the opportunity my parents had – to migrate to a safe country – to the situation many individuals fleeing Syria and Iraq don't have easily today makes me want to use my law degree to help individuals who have their human rights compromised."
John Tobin – Academic
"It’s the little things that I love most about Melbourne Law School. One day it may be the colleague in the student centre who helps me arrange a morning tea for my students. The next day it could be the student who drops in to tell me about the internship they’ve just completed in Africa or the group of students who join me for a lunch at the end of a subject and share their stories about being a law student. I work with wonderful colleagues and students and you never know who it will be that inspires and motivates you on any given day – but you know someone will. Weekends are all about family time and watching the kids play football, netball and cricket."
Elisa Bant – Academic
"I was motivated to join Melbourne Law School for the breadth and depth of expertise in my area, private law. I recommend the Melbourne JD for those who are interested in engaging with cutting edge legal developments through the eyes of scholars who are often the architects or initiators of those changes. And although our staff are ‘experts’ in their fields, our classroom discussions reflect a deeply egalitarian approach in which students and teacher are colleagues in the academic enquiry and student opinions and input are highly valued. The cohort experience throughout the JD has always been valued as a unique and remarkable feature of the degree. But what may not be so obvious from the outside is that faculty are included in this cohort – bringing expertise and collegiality to each student’s experience. My JD students often comment on my trademark ladybug mug, which I find (filled with good tea) is an indispensable teaching aid in early classes! Outside of the law, I enjoy bush walking and watching my two sons playing rugby."
Nur Janattul Fajryah – Masters Student
"Initially the reason I wanted to study law was because not many of my friends do the same. Growing up in Indonesia and working as a government officer, I learnt first-hand the importance of proper legal governance and reliability. I knew I wanted to be different and help my country by being an agent of change and Melbourne Law School was the best place for me to make that happen. I always love going to Natalie Wieland’s legal workshop class. The way she makes everyone smile, laugh and feel at ease truly sets her apart and is just one of the many examples of warmth and kindness I’ve experienced here."
Matthew Bell – Academic
"When I was a kid, I wanted to write children’s books. I haven’t written one yet, but have published construction law textbooks, articles, contracts, advices, research reports and lots of lecture notes! It has all happened thanks to three things: lucky breaks, friends, family and colleagues who have supported me, and having wonderful teachers. These include lecturers (now colleagues) at Melbourne Law School, mentors at law firms and the clients and students from whom I have learned so much. The privilege of being a lawyer is that things don’t always turn out like you thought they would, but if you keep an open mind and grab the opportunities that come along, you can really make a difference to the lives of those around you, and your own!"
Blake Connell – JD Student
"Law struck me as a really practical degree. I nearly ended up working in advertising at the end of my undergraduate degree but opted for the JD instead. In our society, law is the language of change. Take LGBTIQA+ rights, an issue I’m passionate about: change isn’t just rethinking the Marriage Act, but also helping individuals who don’t feel they were treated equally at work, who are bullied on the street or on social media, or who just want the freedom to manage their own sex lives. I’ve had many memorable moments at the Law School. One that stands out is being awarded the Slater+Gordon Best Law App prize with my colleagues. We worked with Environmental Justice Australia to develop an online application which allowed everyday Victorians to more easily challenge property developments in their local area. Another of my hobbies is travel and languages. My JD allowed me to spend six months in Montreal, Canada on exchange at McGill University."
Rachel Amamoo – Masters Student
“Growing up, I was very concerned when people were treated unfairly. I was drawn to the law because I wanted to learn about what I thought was essentially a set of rules that would provide for fair (or at least equal) treatment. After travelling and working in the law overseas for many years, I decided to try working for government and got a job at the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office. I am very lucky because my job typically requires the provision of advice on legal issues that really engage my mind. The Melbourne Law Masters is an exceptional course. I find that I come away knowing a bit more about how to be a better lawyer, generally speaking, as well as about a particular subject. I’ve got three young boys aged 8, 6 and 4, so I don’t have a lot of spare time, but in the spare time that I have I enjoy long distance running, yoga and reading fiction.”
Rami Marginean – Masters Student
“I grew up loving books, history and writing. In high school, I developed a keen interest in economics and law. I understood that law is a wonderful profession and one with an important and special place in society. Shortly after I commenced my law studies, I realised that law could be a great deal more than just being a lawyer. There is the wonderful potential to become an academic or to take up legal roles within organisations of many different kinds. 2016 is my eighth year at the University of Melbourne, I love being a student and learning from those who have a wealth of experience behind them.”
Binny De Sarem – Masters Student
"Throughout my childhood, my parents were very vocal about the fact that everyone has the duty to help. I always saw the law as an amazing, dynamic process that could help effect broad systemic change. I value the fact that I now can do my bit to make a difference. I also enjoy the fact that policy work is influenced by politics which keeps the work topical and interesting. When I’m not studying and working, I get to spend time with my amazing husband and my two spirited little girls. I love to eat, cook and my daughters and I spend quite a bit of time pouring over cookbooks and in the kitchen. Most of our travel is also food motivated. This year my husband and our two girls made our fourth trip to Italy which is food (and coffee!) heaven."
Boniface Kamiti – Global Competition and Consumer Law Online Program Student
“I am an economist by profession, however I have always wanted to pursue law as a career but due to one thing or another I did not get the opportunity to do that. When I joined the Competition Authority of Kenya, I was faced with the huge task of connecting my rational economic explanations to the law. To further understand competition and consumer law and policy, I made it a purpose to constantly read articles and research further. Each time I researched, I realised the important synergy between competition law and policy and economics. While undertaking research I stumbled upon the Global Competition and Consumer Law Online Program at MLS. I remembered my earlier dream of pursuing law and, being one who abhors procrastination, I immediately enrolled for the program. My experience so far has been amazing.”
Jan Mihal – PhD Student
“I am passionate about philosophy, especially as it applies to life and spirituality. My research project falls under the broad topic of “general jurisprudence” or the philosophy of law. Inspiration comes to me every day from a bust of Plato on my filing cabinet, seeing him every morning as I arrive at my desk brightens up my day, for sure! I also write and produce music, I am half of the Psytrance duo ‘Sons of Israel’ and we have toured interstate playing at forest music festivals known colloquially as ‘bush doofs.’ “
Anna Dziedzic – PhD Student
“My research project examines the use of foreign judges on domestic courts in the Pacific region. I lived in Samoa for a little while to work as a volunteer at the Samoa Law Reform Commission. It is the first place I have visited that I absolutely knew I would come back to again and again. One reason I chose my PhD topic was that it gave me the opportunity to learn more about the Pacific region. Not just about Pacific laws, but also about Pacific peoples and their ways of living, and Pacific art and writing. I may even learn to speak Samoan one day.”