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Why Study a Juris Doctor?

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Inspired to study law

Susan Kiefel AC will became Australia’s first female High Court Chief Justice on 30 January 2017 after 113 years of male leadership.

In a moving announcement speech, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Justice Kiefel’s story as “an inspiration”.

She left school at 15 to work as a Legal Secretary, studying law part-time, and eventually practising at the bar then completing a Master of Laws at the University of Cambridge.

Justice Kiefel practised as a Barrister for 16 years, before spending 23 years as a judge, and told Fairfax Media she "learned to work hard at an early age" but she was "ambitious so I enjoyed it".

Studying law is tough and life changing, and our legal professionals continue to play a vital and inspiring role in protecting the marginalised and upholding human values in our rapidly changing, increasingly global communities.

The University of Newcastle’s Dr Kevin Sobel-Read argues that the study of the law is important for two reasons: rstly, what happens around us is framed and driven by the law, including our rights and obligations; and secondly, the law is a powerful tool that many people don’t have access to.

Dr Sobel-Read was inspired to complete a Juris Doctor in part due to the capacity for the law to empower and protect, and said “I wanted to enter the legal profession so that I could help people. I was able to defend a battered women’s shelter from unscrupulous neighbours who were trying to force them to close down. It was incredible”.

ANU’s Molly Townes and O'Brien Stephen Tang argue that the study of Law is about “ fighting the good fight”, motivated by purpose and meaning, and that changing the status quo is possible from with the legal professions. 

For Townes and Tang legal professionals are frequently engaged in deeply meaningful work, and make “significant sacrifices to support and revolutionise the law and their country’s judicial system”.

Katherine Lindsay, Program Convenor of the Juris Doctor program at the University of Newcastle, argues that a legal education brings great professional and intellectual benefits.

She said “it is a privilege to study the law because it is so complex, difficult and nuanced”, and “it hones and sharpens our intellectual apparatus”.

Mrs Lindsay, a Senior Lecturer, has been teaching law at the Newcastle Law School since its establishment in 1992, and highlighted the unique practice oriented curriculum and delivery of the Juris Doctor (JD) program through the University of Newcastle Legal Centre (UNLC).

The JD is designed to equip students with knowledge, clinical experience and the quali cations for admission to legal practice in Australia - at the UNLC it is accompanied by an embedded Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (GDLP)

Mrs Lindsay said “the Newcastle JD is not just any old JD, it is the JD/GDLP and it is this integrated approach which makes all the difference.

Students don’t just hit the books, but work with live clients at UNLC. Individual intellectual development is twinned with an integrated professional engagement that permits students to begin the important process of developing healthy and ethical legal professional personae”.

Mrs Lindsay said these qualities “allow a lawyer to begin to determine how to live his or her values in service to the community. And only Newcastle is really offering this whole package”.

If you do not intend to become a practising lawyer, a Juris Doctor degree will provide diverse skills and knowledge to advance your professional career. The Juris Doctor is a qualification that is highly desirable to employers across the public service, the private sector and not-for-profits. 

If you are interested in the Juris Doctor Postgraduate coursework program at the University of Newcastle, click here to learn more – discover what you will study and the career opportunities it can provide

This article relates to the following programs

12334 Juris Doctor (JD) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice

The Juris Doctor (JD) and the embedded Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the University of Newcastle is designed to equip you with the knowledge, clinical experience and qualification for…

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