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A new era for Sydney law school

A new era for Sydney law school

Official launch honours were shared by Governor-General Quentin Bryce and Attorney-General Robert McClelland. Photo: John Kung

Official launch honours were shared by Governor-General Quentin Bryce and Attorney-General Robert McClelland. Photo: John Kung

After 120 years at the Phillip Street campus in Sydney's CBD, the Sydney law school has returned to the intellectual heart of the University of Sydney. The new building, in the centre of the Camperdown campus overlooking Victoria park, was designed by Sydney University medallist Richard Francis-Jones.

Keynote speakers at the launch on Thursday 30 April included NSW Supreme Court Chief Justice James Spigelman and University of Sydney Chancellor Marie Bashir, and official launch honours were shared by Governor-General Quentin Bryce and Attorney-General Robert McClelland.

Dean of the Faculty of Law Professor Gillian Triggs encapsulated the sense of excitement and new opportunities presented by the new look law school: "The building does more than symbolise the aims of this university - it gives them tangible effect. Its transparency, openness and dynamism makes the university [accessible] to the wider community, linking the sandstone history of the Anderson Stewart building with Victoria park and beyond to the business and legal world of the city," she said.

In their keynote speeches, several alumni fondly recalled their student days at the Sydney law school, but expressed no regrets about leaving behind the physical trappings of Phillip Street campus.

"The law school ... made me a part of a community banded together for life by the oppressive physical facilities," recalled Vice Chancellor Dr Michael Spence.

"There were all sorts of stories that we would share about who you were stuck in the lifts with, those counter-intuitive lifts where the numbers were on the outside. There were stories about whether you could bring class actions about deprivation from light and air."

The modern design of the new building and the return of the law school to the hub of university life was praised by Chief Justice James Spigelman.

"This building feigns nothing; it is uncompromising and I look forward to the bold and significant contribution of both its students and staff," he said.

Justice Spigelman's official address also examined the implications of the move from the Phillips street campus for the law school's relationship with the profession.

"The closeness of this law school to the profession has been one of its greatest strengths [and] that bond remains, in this era of competition amongst tertiary institutions, one of its competitive advantages; this move will require the law school to make an extra effort to retain its traditional ties," he said.

"This relocation serves the interests of the profession, of the university and of the broader community that both serve. The profession benefits if its members have intellectual horizons beyond the law and acquire a broader range of knowledge and experience to bring to the resolution of a legal issue. The university benefits from the greater engagement of legal academics and law students in the intellectual and social life of the university."

The evening launch followed a day of public events, including debates on climate change and medical ethics, a performance by the band Cloud Control and film screenings.

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