At the completion of the Melbourne JD, all students are able to demonstrate competence in a range of core skills essential to many career paths in law. The cumulative nature of the course curriculum allows for the development of skills throughout the course as a whole. There are opportunities for students to choose to give more emphasis to some skill objectives than others, reflecting their particular interests.
A graduate of the Melbourne JD should have the following attributes:
- Profound respect for truth and intellectual integrity, and for the ethics of scholarship and legal practice
- Highly developed cognitive, analytic and problem-solving skills
- Capacity for independent critical thought, rational inquiry and self-directed learning
- Intellectual curiosity and creativity including understanding of the philosophical and methodological bases of research activity
- Extensive knowledge of the discipline of law, including a substantive knowledge base and the capacity to track, comprehend and evaluate changes that occur over time
- Highly developed legal skills in finding, analysing and using law, in a variety of different contexts
- Informed respect for the principles, disciplines, values and ethics of the legal profession
- Ability and self-confidence to comprehend complex concepts, to express them lucidly, whether orally or in writing, and to confront unfamiliar problems
- Awareness of advanced communications technologies and modalities, sound working skills in the application of computer systems and software, and receptiveness to the expanding opportunities of the ‘information revolution’
- International awareness and openness to the world, based on understanding and appreciation of social and cultural diversity and respect for human rights and dignity
- Leadership capacity, including a willingness to engage in constructive public discourse, to accept social and civic responsibilities and to speak out against prejudice, injustice and the abuse of power
- Ability and confidence to participate effectively in collaborative learning as a team-member, while respecting individual differences
- Ability to plan work and to use time effectively.
Cognitive skills include:
- Skills in reading and comprehending legal materials, notably reports of decided cases and legislation
- Skills of logical analysis and reasoning
- Oral skills in legal analysis and argument
- Skills in legal writing, including skills in developing an argument and supporting it with properly cited authority
- Skills in the design and conduct of legal research, including computer-aided research
- Skills in understanding the interrelationship of facts and law, and in identifying the factual information needed to sustain legal propositions
- Strategic skills in considering a range of options in response to a legal problem and in identifying those which best meet the needs of the client
- Interdisciplinary skills in relating legal materials and problems to non-legal areas of discourse
- Skills in identifying and responding to ethical dilemmas.
Other essential skills in which students will acquire competence include:
- Judgement and diplomacy skills
- Team skills in working constructively with small or large groups to achieve a particular goal
- Interpersonal skills in relating to a client (actual or hypothetical) and in providing advice attuned to that client’s needs and interests
- Skills in legal drafting for legislation, and commercial transactions
- Skills in negotiation
- Skills in policy analysis relevant to law reform
- Skills in community legal education
- Skills in the transfer of legal knowledge and understanding
- Skills in the application of legal knowledge to contemporary social problems
- Skills in advocacy
- Skills in mediation and processes of alternative dispute resolution
- Intercultural communication skills that reflect the international focus of the program.
In addition, there is an emphasis on leadership throughout the course. This seeks both to develop the leadership qualities of students and to raise consciousness of the importance and techniques of leadership in law, generally and in particular areas.