The first students of the new Juris Doctor (JD) program at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have begun classes this week, adding to the growing number of students entering legal studies via alternate means.
Along with a number of other Australian universities - including Melbourne Law School, UTS and Monash University - UNSW has launched the exclusively postgraduate degree for those who have completed degrees in disciplines other than law.
The internationally recognised JD leads to admission to practice and offers a variety of out-of-classroom learning options such as legal clinics, public interest and social justice internships.
As a postgraduate degree, the JD attracts students of a high calibre, with more than a third of the UNSW class with postgraduate qualifications including PhD and Master degrees, in areas including public health, music, psychology, commerce, development studies and criminology.
With an average age of 28, the class is made up of engineers, journalists, doctors, accountants, teachers, pharmacists, architects, social workers and military officers.
Addressing the commencing class, former Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Gerard Brennan, noted the benefits associated with having a degree before commencing legal studies.
"One of the great advantages of coming to law as a post-graduate student is the prospect of a professional life enriched by a broad range of interests and a wider experience of the human condition," Brennan said.
"Some of the finest lawyers have come to the law after pursuing other fields of intellectual activity."