Stepping up to an intellectual challenge

Melbourne JD student Stephanie McHugh chose to study law for the intellectual rigour of it. Now, as she prepares to sit her final exams, Stephanie believes she has gained not only knowledge, but also the practical skills to make a positive impact in the world.

Final-year student Stephanie McHugh says the Melbourne JD has provided the intellectual rigour she was looking for – in abundance.

“I was initially torn between teaching and law, but after going to a JD information session and realising how intellectually stimulating the course was, I decided to apply,” Stephanie says.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Stephanie’s favourite class has been Legal Research, a third-year subject where students have the freedom to delve into a subject they are passionate about.

“I chose Corporate Regulation and Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility taken by Professor Christine Parker,” she says.

“In my paper, I explored the intersection between public health and corporate social responsibility in light of increasing rates of childhood obesity in Australia, with particular focus on the legal and ethical implications of the placement of a McDonald’s restaurant inside the Royal Children’s Hospital.”

‘‘I found that being engaged and invested in my topic made writing 8,000 words not seem so difficult!

“At the end, you produce something that you can be really proud of.”

Along the way, Stephanie has found inspiration – and friends – in many of her teachers, like Christine Parker and Trusts and Remedies teacher Associate Professor Katy Barnett.

“Katy is the most approachable academic I have ever encountered,” Stephanie says.

“She is passionate about her areas of interest and this shines through when she teaches, making learning about conceptually challenging topics not so daunting,” Stephanie says.

For Stephanie, an internship at Victoria Legal Aid in her second year provided the opportunity to put knowledge into practice – and proved to be a highlight of her time at MLS.

“It was an amazing experience and gave me first-hand, practical legal knowledge which is invaluable for any law student,” she says.

“I got to visit the Magistrates', Family and Federal courts regularly and was invited to be present for client interviews and meetings.”

As an antidote to long hours of study, Stephanie strives to keep active, lacing up her runners and training for her first half-marathon.

“I’ve found that running is a mental challenge more than a physical one,” she says.

“I really enjoy the clarity I feel when I’m running and I find that I’m much more focused when I study afterwards.”

As she heads into her last-ever exam period, Stephanie is optimistic about the future.

“I have been studying for over six years now, and I’m very excited about the prospect of putting all that knowledge into practice and entering the professional workforce,” she says.

But first, a well-earned break.

“When I finish the JD, I will be heading to South America for a very long holiday!”

By Blake Connell

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