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Judge in Residence

The Hon. Margaret Stone, recently retired as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, has been lending her wise counsel to students and academics as Melbourne Law School's current Judge in Residence.

This initiative gives students and academics the opportunity to engage with Australia's most influential judicial leaders through a series of workshops, classes and guest lectures.

Whilst at the Law School, the former judge has been lecturing in Constitutional Law, which includes judging moots as part of the assessment. "The experience has confirmed my view that mooting is a very important part of legal training and not only for those intending to make their careers as advocates," said Mrs Stone.

"There is no better path to understanding an area of law than having to formulate a legal argument, anticipate arguments to the contrary and defend your position in the face of probing questions … These are important skills for all lawyers, as is the ability to command a room and confidently give advice. In emphasizing the importance of class participation Melbourne Law School encourages the development of these skills. The moot competitions take the skill to a new level."

She describes her experience in interacting with Melbourne Law School students as stimulating and challenging.

"Students at Melbourne take their studies seriously; they take advantage of the opportunities that are open to them here and are (politely) vocal about what they expect of the Law School. That is as it should be."

An adjournment to celebrate

This year will complete the transition to the Juris Doctor as the primary law degree at Melbourne Law School when the final Bachelor of Laws students finish their studies. Current students, recent graduates and alumni got together to celebrate this historic occasion last month at the Woodward Centre atop the Law School.

Law School alumni at panel discussion 

The atmosphere was celebratory as comedian and broadcaster Libbi Gorr (LLB 1987), who proudly declared her own LLB stripes, led a panel of alumni in sharing their experiences of studying law, and their sometimes surprising paths to Melbourne Law School.

The Hon. Justice David Habersberger, Supreme Court of Victoria, initially intended to study arts at the University of Melbourne before he found his way to the LLB when his sister suggested law. "After just a month, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and I knew I wanted to be a barrister," said Justice Habersberger.

Justice Habersberger (LLB(Hons 1971) was joined on the panel by Georgina Costello (LLB(Hons) 1999), The Victorian Bar; Paul Hameister (LLB 1992), Joint Managing Director, Hamton; Will Irving (LLB(Hons)1993), Group Managing Director, Business, Telstra; Sophie Mirabella MP (LLB 1994, LLM 1997); Ken Nguyen (LLB(Hons) 2004), Senior Associate, Ashurst; and Professor Loane Skene (LLB(Hons) 1969, LLD 2008), Melbourne Law School.

The original LLB course was created three years after law classes began at Melbourne Law School, and the first graduates received their degrees in 1865. Almost 150 years later the final LLB students will walk out the doors of the Law School at the end of this year. "Are we going to miss the LLB? Yes we are," declared the Dean of Melbourne Law School, Professor Carolyn Evans, who told her fellow alumni that she had enjoyed immensely her own experience of studying the LLB, and later teaching LLB students.

"But just because now we will primarily be teaching the JD, we are in no way turning our back on the past. We want to continue to celebrate and enjoy all the contributions our LLB graduates have made and will continue to make in the world," said Professor Evans.

Image: Law School alumni at the panel discussion to mark the end of teaching the LLB.
Source: Joanna Trethowan

This article originally appeared in MLS News, Issue 8, October 2012.