WHEN she is not working as a partner in Mallesons Stephen Jaques’ construction practice, Julie Wright can be found in the classroom teaching not law, but engineering students.
Her extra-curricular activity come in spite of a busy practice, she said. “I won’t kid you, it is a busy time [in construction practice]. But it is so very rewarding teaching.”
“It is a four hour, weekly time slot, which is hard work and tiring and a lot for the students to take-in in one go as well. I always feel extremely uplifted when I have done it.”
After three years of lecturing a basic contract law subject for civil engineering students at Sydney University, Wright has been appointed adjunct professor of the civil engineering school.
“They’re a very different kettle of fish than lawyers,” said Wright.
Wright approached Sydney University for a teaching role upon completion of a Masters of Construction Law at Melbourne University a couple of years ago.
“[University of Sydney] said: ‘we got this opportunity for undergrads in the civil engineering group. It’s sort of law for engineers if you like. We think you’d be perfect to do that with your skill set.’ I started doing it and I just loved it.”
Wright said the course aims to give students a basic understanding of the legal disputes that could arise in contract work.
“If they learn to take the right steps and give the appropriate notices, that kind of thing, than they might stop disputes in their tracks or at an early stage or avoid large-scale disputes later on.”
She said student feedback showed they respond well to real-life examples drawn from cases Wright has worked on.
“I can refer to particular projects around Sydney that I have worked on that they know about. That always makes things a lot more real for people,” said Wright.
“It is a lot of fun to give people an insight into the world they’re going into. I have about 50 students.
“They seem to be very positive [about the course] because the other subjects they do are subjects like structures or soils. So to go from that to law, which is something completely different and out of their comfort zone, is quite a lot of fun for them.”