Samuel Smith | Juris Doctor

While studying a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Sam attended an information session about Melbourne Law School. After hearing about all the subjects, events and opportunities on offer, he knew a Juris Doctor (JD) would be his next step.

Sam recalls being interested in Australia’s systems of government when he was in school, but he didn’t yet realise he wanted to study law. When he learned more about Melbourne Law School while completing the first year of his BCom degree, it clicked for him: he would go on to do his JD and become a lawyer.

He first dipped his toe into the field by studying a law breadth subject during his undergrad, which solidified his view that he wanted to study law. He also remained confident that he wanted to study law at Melbourne.

“Ultimately, I chose Melbourne Law School because it is the best law school in Australia and one of the best law schools in the world,” he said.

In Sam's opinion, this reputation is well-deserved. “I really enjoy studying at Melbourne Law School. It is academically challenging, but also rewarding, and being among a driven and supportive cohort has made me strive to study harder.”

He went on to say that the diverse student cohort was one of the most valuable aspects of the program.

“People from all different backgrounds, from around the world, have come to Melbourne Law School to study the JD. It never ceases to amaze me just how much each student has accomplished and continues to accomplish. While not all wish to practise as lawyers, they all have grand visions of the future, with a desire to make meaningful change in so many fields, and I have no doubt they will.”

Samuel Smith, Juris Doctor

As Sam reckons, learning from world-class teaching staff will certainly help them along the way.

“We are very fortunate to be taught by some of the best legal academics in Australia. Their ability to teach the theory of law, while also imparting their knowledge acquired from years of practice and academia, has made law really enjoyable to study.”

With many options to choose from, Sam has done his best to select a broad range of electives.

“I have built legal apps in Law Apps (LAWS90033), while in Employment Law (LAWS50064), I learned about the evolution of industrial relations law in Australia and how technology and digital platforms are changing the employment law landscape.”

In New Technology Law (LAWS90107), Sam even got to travel overseas to Singapore, where he and his fellow students learned about the intersection between law and technology. The group “visited law, technology, and consulting firms, as well as two universities, and discussed the many ways in which technology intersects with the practice of law.”

“This included learning about cybersecurity, digital platforms and artificial intelligence (AI), the latter being particularly topical with the rise of ChatGPT and other applications. The experience opened my eyes to the future of legal practice and the many opportunities and pathways out there for people with law degrees who may not want to necessarily practise as a lawyer.”

Sam looks forward to completing more electives in his final year, including a placement at JobWatch as part of the Public Interest Law Clinic (LAWS50116).

He welcomes the opportunity to gain more hands-on experience following a rewarding seasonal clerkship he completed last year.

During his clerkship with Clayton Utz, he had the chance to “meet clients, attend chambers, and go to court.”

“The clerkship provided an invaluable insight into the inner workings of a top law firm, and exposure to practical legal work. It built upon the knowledge acquired so far in the JD and demonstrated how law is applied in practice.”

Reflecting on what advice he might give to a prospective student, Sam said, “I would say to anyone considering a JD to look at the course structure, look at the different pathways that a law degree can lead you down, and explore the many opportunities available through the Melbourne JD, including degree partnerships, exchange opportunities, electives, and extra-curricular activities. If you are doing an undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne, there are so many law breadth subjects on offer, and they’re a great way to get a taste of law and decide if it’s something you want to pursue.”

As for his own next steps, Sam plans “to work as a solicitor for several years, before potentially going to the Bar. I have also not ruled out going into politics in the future.”

He concludes, “I know whatever career path I choose to go down, the knowledge and skills acquired through the JD will help me achieve my career goals.”

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