Message from the Dean

By Carolyn Evans
Dean, Melbourne Law School
Harrison Moore Professor of Law

Welcome to the first MLS News for 2015. In this edition, we are focusing on innovation and change.

We are all faced with the challenges that come from the pace of economic, social, political and technological change in recent years. In these pages, you will read about some of the interesting and creative ways in which Melbourne Law School alumni, students and staff are facing those challenges.

Professor Carolyn Evans

Legal education provides skills in critical thinking and analysis that allow graduates to adapt to novel circumstances. Contrary to the stereotype, lawyers and law graduates have often proved adept at creative responses when required.

Education is also faced with the need to respond flexibly to change. The University has led this bold educational innovation, including adopting to a postgraduate model, that has contributed to the substantial success that Melbourne has achieved in attracting students from around the country and around the world. It has made Australian tertiary education more diverse and supported the whole institution's rise in international rankings.

Here at the Law School, we continue to hold to those elements of our past that are most important, while constantly challenging ourselves to respond to the changing needs of our students, the profession and the wider community. Since I became Dean, I have worked through an annual set of meetings with some of the most substantial employers of our students and also with an advisory board drawn from different sectors in which our alumni work.

Their feedback has led directly to changes in subjects and teaching methods in the JD to ensure that our students maximise their employability in a very difficult market. I have also worked with colleagues and students on a range of innovative clinical and experiential subjects that have educational benefits for students and provide much needed support for the community legal sector. It has been wonderful to see these efforts recognised by QS rankings confirming yet again that Melbourne Law School is the best law school in Australia and in the top 10 law schools in the world.

I am also delighted to announce a further strengthening of our links with the profession when the Hon. Justice Kenneth Hayne, recently retired from the High Court of Australia, takes up a position as a Professorial Fellow at Melbourne Law School. Justice Hayne has been a strong supporter of the Law School during his time on the bench and we are all very pleased to welcome him to  the Law School community where staff and students alike are sure to benefit from his presence. Preparing for the future, however, begins with understanding and respecting the value of the past. In this edition you will find a wonderful tribute to the late Professor Robin Sharwood, an important part of the Law School community for decades. Robin epitomised the exceptional scholar and teacher – a standard towards which we still strive today. He will be much missed.

This article originally appeared in MLS News, Issue 13, June 2015.