Beginning of a legal education: orientation at Melbourne Law School

Semester one is underway for our new Melbourne Juris Doctor cohort, with more than 300 students attending orientation earlier this month and currently undertaking Legal Method and Reasoning (LMR).

Group photo

The cohort comprises students from all over the world, with 25 international students from as far away as China, the Czech Republic, Canada and the United States.

Enrolment of students from Western Australia has more than doubled from last year to 22, with students from all other states joining them in LMR.

The new cohort has students from a range undergraduate backgrounds including commerce, engineering and science, to nursing, biomed, design and agriculture.

LMR is a two-week intensive subject that is scheduled prior to the beginning of semester proper, and serves as an introduction to the law.

It is the first opportunity students have to acquire basic foundational legal skills essential to their future study and work as lawyers.

In small groups of about 25 each, LMR students learn how to find, read, use and interpret reported cases and legislation and learn how to respond to — and try to resolve — legal problems.

New students also have the opportunity to critically discuss the institutions that decide cases and enact legislation.

LMR coordinator, Professor Ian Malkin, says one of the great joys of the subject is teaching to small groups of highly engaged, enthusiastic students who come from wide-ranging personal backgrounds and academic experiences.

“One of the most important aspects of LMR is that it gives students a large number of opportunities to get to know one another in and outside the classroom,” Professor Malkin says.

“Students quickly discover that one of the best parts of being in LMR and the Melbourne JD is the friendships they quickly develop with classmates from diverse backgrounds with diverse experiences: our JD community.

“We urge students to meet new people at every turn and will give a lot of opportunities to do so.”

LMR classes are carefully designed to be as interactive as possible, so that students can engage with and dissect the social, moral and legal complexities involved in real-life scenarios.

Professor Malkin says the LMR teaching team brought a wealth of experience to the classroom and a wide range of expertise from many different fields of law.

“This year, the breadth of our academic interests ranged from international criminal law, to private law, anti-discrimination law, legal ethics, human rights law, tax law and the law of not-for-profits, privacy law, media law, moral, legal and political philosophy, and many more,” he says.

“Our teaching team is always keen to do our best to make students’ time at Melbourne Law School and first exposure to the law a rewarding, intellectually challenging, engaging experience.”

LMR continues until February 19.