"Brilliant." That is how Dean James Hathaway describes the Melbourne JD degree, saying it will produce outstanding legal professionals. Professor Hathaway arrived at the Law School just as it was implementing a fully graduate educational model.
"The graduate model has necessitated a huge shift in the way we teach, who our students are, how we recruit them and how we support them. A lot is changing and it is an exciting time to be at the Law School," Hathaway explains.
"An essential part of the JD program is recruiting graduates from different disciplinary backgrounds who have the analytical thinking and ability to become high-quality lawyers.
"The Melbourne Model is brilliant because it allows students to gain a broad tertiary education before asking them to decide on their career direction. It gives them three years in an undergraduate program to think broadly, to learn how to research, how to study, how to write and to analyse. And so when the students arrive at the Law School they have the intellectual tools to really engage with law," Professor Hathaway says.
As part of the JD program, the Law School is emphasising the importance of continuous dialogue between academic staff and students. There is also more emphasis on role-play and bringing in outside experts.
"About half of the JD students have prior career experience. In the classroom you are not just learning from a teacher. You are in a Contracts class negotiating with two or three engineers in the room, you probably have two or three business people in the room, and so the quality of experience between students and academic staff is enforced by both the diversity of experience and knowledge each student brings into the classroom."