THE UNIVERSITY of Melbourne is now well on the way to implementing its graduate school model in 2008, which it says will lead to a more research focused institution and provide benefits for students and professionals alike, but some are worried it could lead to even more costly law degrees.
Dean of Law at Melbourne University, Michael Crommelin, said the “bold” new approach, which will see law only studied at the graduate level through an expanded Juris Doctor, will have several benefits for students and the profession.
For potential students, these include more time to choose whether law is the right career, greater opportunities to study overseas and the ability to learn more readily from their peers.
He feels the two-tier approach will provide employers with more experienced law graduates, and help reduce the turnover in law firms.
Only the University of Western Australia has signalled that Melbourne’s approach may need to be considered, if only for competitive reasons, but the Federal Government is now gauging opinion on whether other universities should follow a similar model.
Melbourne University is well aware the two-tier path to the new law degree will make it costlier to obtain than most versions of law degrees now available, but Crommelin said they are working hard to provide as many subsidised places as possible.
“It is very difficult on the current level of government funding to achieve the objectives we have in terms of quality of legal education if you don’t have some significant number of fee-paying students,” he said.
“However, the university places a very high priority on selection of the most able students, regardless of their financial circumstances, and already has the most generous scholarship scheme of any Australian university.”
See full report ‘The making of a superior lawyer?’ on p24.