From West to East: WA student finds tech law focus at Melbourne

Bachelor of Commerce graduate Emily Mackay moved from Perth to study the Melbourne JD.

Going on exchange to London during her undergraduate degree attracted Emily to the offerings a big city provides.

“I was looking for a city that had a few more opportunities, particularly in the legal market which can be quite competitive,” Emily says.

The wide range of electives on offer made Melbourne Law School the logical choice.

“I didn’t know which area [of the law] I wanted to pursue, but I don’t like being boxed in,” she says.

“The commitment to having the broad range of electives was what I wanted.”

Now in her third year of the JD, Emily has made the most of the electives on offer, primarily in the technological sphere.

In her second year she studied New Technology Law, a subject co-taught by PwC’s Head of Digital and Technology Law in Australia, in which students hear first-hand from professionals working at the intersection of technology and the law.

Next semester she will take Law Apps, a subject in which students team up to build an app for a not-for-profit legal service. Emily believes that understanding the relationship between technology and the law will put her in good stead for the profession.

“It’ll be really useful having that knowledge going into clerkships and job applications because it is the way the market is heading,” Emily says.

“Even if you’re not working with the technology directly, you need to have that basic awareness.”

Since moving to Melbourne, Emily has taken full advantage of the opportunities available by participating in law school competitions, including winning the 2016 Women’s Moot and placing runner up in the 2017 International Humanitarian Law Moot. Outside of her studies, Emily works as a legal assistant for a US-based law firm.

For Emily, who knew nobody in Melbourne before she arrived, the structure of the JD has made the transition an easy one. She counts Legal Method and Reasoning (LMR), a two-week intensive that all students undertake prior to the start of their first semester, as key.

“Obviously it can be tough for interstate students moving over, but I think LMR helps with that,” she says.

“You’re with the same group of friends for the first six months. It helps form your core group going through law school. Many of my closest friends are from LMR.”

“That is unique to Melbourne and that’s what saves and supports you in first year.”

Her advice to students relocating from interstate is simple: be easy on yourself.

“Being in a new city I just tried to put as little pressure on myself in the beginning,” she says.

“It’s okay if you don’t know all of the streets in Melbourne within the first month, or if you don’t go to the NGV or have no idea what everyone else is talking about.”

“You’re here for at least three years, so you’ll be fine,” she says. “The friendly and inclusive nature of the cohort ensures it.”

Find out more about the Melbourne JD