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As one chapter ends, another begins

A little over two years ago I shared with you my joy at being accepted into the Master of Laws (LLM) program at the University of Sydney. I’m happy to report that a little over a week ago I received notification that I had completed my final subject, meaning all things going well I should graduate in the next ceremony later this year. Woooohooooo!

The LLM is the main reason I’ve been particularly quiet on here the last couple of years, as outside of work and exercise I was doing very little apart from studying. I like to think all the hard work paid off, as the lowest mark I received was 79, and my average mark across all subjects was just under 84:

LLM subject results

LLM results

Was the LLM as enjoyable as I thought it would be? Absolutely, although it wasn’t without its challenges.

On the plus side I loved the selection of subjects (some 150 in total) that the University of Sydney offers to LLM students (and if that isn’t enough to satisfy you there is always the option of cross-institutional study). The quality of lecturers was first-class, and the class sizes small enough that I found them really interactive and engaging. On the negative side, and this is more of a personal thing, I felt a lot of stress, pressure and anxiety to perform well, and to perform consistently across all my subjects. Part of this is simply wanting to do my best and push myself, but in the back of my mind there was always the realisation that the graduate lawyer market in Australia is very competitive at the moment and that if I wanted to have any chance of getting a job in law I would need to do well.

Have I done enough to secure a job in law? Have all the years of study, stress and pressure been worth it? I don’t know, as it will only be in the next couple of months that I begin to seriously look for a new job in the hope of following my passion and changing careers, so watch this space! 🙂

To assist in my job-hunting prospects I recently became an accredited mediator. For those who aren’t familiar, mediation is a largely informal process in which an independent third-party (the mediator) assists parties to identify issues in dispute, develop options, consider alternatives and (hopefully) reach agreement. Mediation is great because it empowers parties to resolve their own disputes, and is generally far less expensive, time-consuming or stressful for parties compared to going to court.

I decided to become an accredited mediator because mediation is increasingly becoming a mandatory part of many pre-trial procedures, meaning that before you even step foot in a courtroom you must have made a genuine attempt at resolving your dispute through mediation (or some other form of alternative dispute resolution).

Becoming an accredited mediator is not a particularly difficult process (a 5-day workshop followed by a video assessment), and the skills that you develop can be used across a wide variety of disputes, not just those that would otherwise end up in court! For further information on mediation or becoming an accredited mediator please see this website. A great book on interests-based negotiating (central to the mediation process) is ‘Getting to Yes‘ by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton.

That’s about it for now. What will I be doing with all my free time now that I’m not studying? Well for a start I’ll be spending a lot of time reading for personal enjoyment. Over the past two years I’ve collated a list of about 100 books I want to read (here for those curious). Other than that I’m looking forward to exercising more and importantly getting back into photography – just wandering the streets, documenting the world as it unfolds in front of me, and of course sharing the results on here! 🙂

Great news!

I applied for the Master of Laws (LLM) program at the University of Sydney late last year for semester 2 (beginning this July). I got formal notification on Wednesday that I’ve been accepted into the program! 😀

Offer

As many of you are aware I never completed high school, and last year graduated from the LPAB’s Diploma in Law course (which I highly recommend). One of the great things about the Diploma in Law course, apart from its flexible means of entry into the legal profession, is its close relationship with the University of Sydney.

The University of Sydney delivers the curriculum for the Diploma in Law course and, as an added benefit, provides the ability for students who complete the course to apply to be admitted into the LLM course. Admission is not automatic and only those students with a “very good record” will be considered for acceptance.

The LLM program at the University of Sydney is arguably the most highly regarded in the country, so I can’t wait to begin!

I chose the LLM program instead of a specialisation such as Master of Criminology (MCRIM) or Master of Health Law (MHL) because I would rather learn a wider range of topics (jack of all trades, master of none I guess you could say…).

The University of Sydney offers more than 150 different units of study in their postgraduate law program and I get to choose 8 as part of the LLM program. So far the following units are on my wish-list:

  • Forensic Psychology
  • Mediation – Skills & Theory
  • Death Law
  • Cybercrime (would be delivered by UNSW)
  • Young People, Crime & the Law
  • Health Care & Professional Liability
  • Criminal Liability
  • Surveillance Security & Democracy (would be delivered by UNSW)

I decided to undertake the LLM now whilst I’m still in habit of studying on a regular basis and don’t have much of a social life, instead of a few years down the line when studying might be the last thing I want to do!

The LLM at the University of Sydney is 1 year full-time, or 2 years part-time and costs $30,480 (as of writing) for domestic fee paying students.

I start late July! 🙂

Inspiration and the study of law

I love hearing from people who visit my site.

Recently I added a Contact me page so that it would provide a simple and quick way for visitors to get in touch with me. I don’t bite so if you have some time I’d love to hear from you!

A week ago I received an email from a young man named Ahmad, who said:

I have come across your website today and you have truly inspired me. I am a recent graduate from TAFE in a Diploma of IT Systems Administration and it has only been one year on after my HSC. I am now currently looking for an entry-level role in IT to save a bit of money for the Diploma in Law and I was planning to follow your path before I even came across your site. However your site has truly inspired me and I confirmed to myself I can do it. Especially because I do have an interest in law. If you could share with me any experiences or recommendations about my pathway to law it would be much appreciated.

To my knowledge I’ve never been an inspiration to anyone before and so it was a real pleasure to receive the above message and I’m glad that my story has resonated with someone enough to push them to following their dreams in to law.

For those who don’t know, the Diploma in Law course offers a flexible method of entry into the legal profession and also to further study such as the Master of Laws.

The Diploma in Law course pre-dates law degrees offered by Australian universities, with the present-day predecessor first established in 1848.

If, like me, you misspent your high school years chasing girls and generally being a juvenile delinquent but still have a desire to practice law, the Diploma in Law course may be for you.

I say may be because studying law is not for everyone. It requires an incredible amount of reading, dedication and diligence. Most people undertaking the course already work full time and/or have families. Study will eat into whatever precious free time you have and reduce it even further. To do this year in, year out for at least 4 years requires great perseverance.

There are also financial considerations.

Each subject (as of writing) costs $675.00. So at a minimum you are looking at $13,500.00 excluding textbooks. Most recommended textbooks for each subject I purchased (~$300.00 per subject), however most are available to borrow from the law library, and the University of Sydney has a very good second hand textbook noticeboard where you can pick up current textbooks at greatly reduced prices.

Even once you complete the Diploma in Law you’ll still need to complete a Practical Legal Training course, such as that offered by the College of Law (~$8000.00). It is at the PLT course where you learn how to introduce yourself to the court, advocate on behalf of your client, interview potential clients, manage trust accounts etc… – i.e. all the interesting stuff that you don’t learn in textbooks!

As part of PLT you’ll also need to satisfy the work experience component, which currently means 75 days under supervision. Only then, with your Diploma in one hand, completion of PLT and work experience in the other, can you then apply to be admitted to practice law. I say apply because you still have to be deemed to be a fit and proper person in order to be admitted as a lawyer, and this is at the discretion of the admitting authority – the Legal Profession Admission Board.

So even after $20,000.00+, 4+ years of study and sacrifice and 75 days of work experience, entry to the profession is not guaranteed. That is why I would say if you are considering studying law be acutely aware of the sacrifices that you will have to make – both personal and financial – and the time and effort you’ll need to dedicate to not only pass subjects but to do well.

Even if you don’t plan to go on to practice as a lawyer, studying law provides you with invaluable analytical, research, evaluation, reasoning, lateral thinking and written and oral communication skills that can be used in countless other facets of life.

Ultimately the advice I gave to Ahmed came down to this:

Studying law is a long, hard road but one that is extremely rewarding and you will make friends that you’ll have for the rest of your life. Good luck!

Only 4 sleeps until Santa! 🙂