THE CHIEF Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Hon Murray Gleeson AC, opened the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) new law building yesterday.
Now housed under the one roof are the School of Law, the Australian School of Taxation (Atax), the faculty’s research and social justice centres, the Freehills Law Library, the Centre for Continuing Legal Education and the Kingsford Legal Centre, which brings all the various elements of the law faculty together for the first time.
UNSW’s vice-chancellor, professor Fred Hilmer, said that “the new building provides the third critical ingredient in ensuring the sustained equity in our law school. We have always had first rate staff and first rate students — now we have a first rate building”.
Including an auditorium which can seat up to 350 students and ‘Harvard-style’ lecture rooms, the building dwarves the faculty’s previous structures — three wooden huts on a stretch of sand on lower campus that provided the first of many temporary facilities.
Professor David Dixon, the law faculty’s Senior Associate Dean, believes “the building provides so much more than just a new physical space. It’s an opportunity for us to initiate new projects and to respond to the demands of a new generation of students, drawing the professions, business, public institutions and the community into our research and teaching programs.”
The University’s Chancellor, David Gonski, was among the first wave of UNSW law students, graduating in 1977. “It was my good fortune to be taught at the law school,” he said. “The new building is tangible evidence of the maturity and standing which the law faculty has achieved since its humble origins in 1971. It now has the home it so richly deserves.”
The purpose-built facility has been part of the faculty’s planning for three decades. Located at the western end of the University’s main campus at Kensington, it provides state-of-the-art teaching facilities. It was specifically designed in order to promote interaction between staff and students.