The College of Law has launched a new qualification aimed at young lawyers looking to cut their teeth in commercial litigation and fast track their legal careers.
The Master of Applied Law Commercial Litigation program will commence in August, catering to lawyers with two to three years' experience, who want to progress to specialist status.
"We're hoping that large and medium firms, and even some small firms, will start to see this as a really strong leg-up for young lawyers entering the field of commercial litigation and needing to put on some serious expertise as fast as possible," explained College of Law principal Neville Carter.
Carter said the program addresses a significant gap in the legal higher education market, identified through the college's research in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
"There's been a significant shift in the way the legal profession thinks about formal award education," he says. "The research told us that there was a gap; that while people valued current Masters of law programs that were being offered by the law schools for their academic and intellectual content, there was a perception that there was a different kind of higher award that was missing from the market - a practical, very career-orientated applied course."
The course's launch coincides with cost-cutting measures by firms, including training budgets. The cost per unit for the course is $1750, with an overall cost of $12,000 for the Masters qualification.
However, fee assistance facilitated by the college's accreditation arrangements mean that practitioners enrolling in the course have access to government-funded tuition arrangements.
"I think it's reasonable to expect there won't be as much money in training budgets as there was in better years, so it's a bit of a balancing act," Carter says. "I think these sorts of economic circumstances do force lawyers, particularly young lawyers, to think about how they are going to differentiate themselves from others."
The Master of Applied Law Commercial Litigation is the second applied law course launched by the College of Law, following on from its Masters of Family Law program. A third course, focusing on elder law, wills and estates, is currently in the planning stages.
"Ideally, down the track we'd be running these courses in parallel with the sorts of discipline areas that you see in specialised accreditation, and [by] linking the firms, we would want to see graduates in our programs transitioning quite naturally into specialist life," Carter says.
- Laura MacIntyre