One subject down: a reflection on the first month of the Melbourne JD

Nick Felstead commenced the Melbourne JD in February 2017. He reflects on his experiences in his first few weeks of law school.

Nick Felstead

I came to the Melbourne JD after three years studying the Bachelor of Environments at the University of Melbourne.

Over the past three years I’ve been locked away in the Melbourne School of Design creating sculptures, transport frameworks, and rounding rectangles. Suddenly learning to read a case note or navigate complex legislation has proved to be a little different!

But by the end of my first subject, the two-week intensive Legal Method and Reasoning (LMR), I was equipped with an understanding of legal foundations, supportive friends that I’d met only 10 days earlier, and a readiness to jump into the JD.

The line that later-year students repeated to us throughout these first two weeks was that your core group of friends will most likely be made up of people in your LMR class. I’ve found this to be absolutely true; spending those first two weeks together is invaluable for forming friendships.

The class itself was challenging and rewarding; if the content at times seemed straightforward, the wonderful Associate Professor Farrah Ahmed quickly pointed out a myriad of minutia that we overlooked.  The subject proved a great introduction to reading case law, legislation and understanding Australia’s legal system.

The subjects I’ve taken so far in the JD have been wildly different to any of my undergraduate subjects, requiring a more comprehensive and thoughtful approach to the content. While I might not have realised it at the time, the skills from all three sections of the LSAT have come in handy throughout this first semester.

Coming from a design-based degree, the biggest shock was the sheer amount of reading that needed to be done to keep up with the class. It no longer seems viable to skim through the readings on the tram, and the desire to be able to participate and offer an opinion in class is greater than ever.

The final step before entering first semester was Law Camp, an optional experience offered by the Law Students’ Society (LSS). Held over the last weekend before semester begins, this was the perfect way to debrief from LMR and meet new people. It was an amazing weekend and the Camp Leaders from the LSS were an incredibly inclusive and supportive group.

Everyone’s experience of their first few weeks will be varied, but a few aspects will remain constant: an endless supply of picturesque views of Melbourne throughout the building, collective groans and secret admiration for awful case-based puns, and a growing fondness towards the judgements of Justice Michael Kirby.

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