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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! 🙂

I’m a lawyer.

Earlier this month I was admitted as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of NSW. It was a nice occasion – my parents flew down from Queensland, there was all the pomp and ceremony one would expect, and the ceremony itself was conducted in the Banco Court by the Chief Justice of NSW.

I'm a lawyer!

I’m a lawyer!

A few of the reasons I haven’t posted in a while are that I’ve been ridiculously busy at work, and since my admission I’ve been contemplating my future.

What am I going to do now that I’ve been admitted? The short answer, at least for the time being, is “not much.” I am just about to reach 9 years of service with my current employer. If I quit now I do not receive any long service leave. If I stay until I reach 10 years of service I become entitled to 2 months paid leave.

Whilst I am eager to begin my legal career, I would be stupid to quit now instead of working a further 12 months and receiving 2 months paid leave. The long service leave may also allow me to fulfil a dream of mine to cycle around Australia raising money for charity and talking to children and young people about the benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet.

So that’s where I’m at – I will keep working with my current employer for the time being, complete the Master of Laws, receive my long service leave and then see where the road takes me.

Another factor that I have taken into consideration is that job prospects for law gradates at the moment are not particularly good. There seems to be a significant oversupply of law graduates.  This recent submission by the Law Society of South Australia provides a good overview of the problems facing new lawyers. For an in-depth discussion from the perspective of students/graduates see these three Whirlpool forum posts – Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone – may 2014 be full of love, joy and happiness for you all! 🙂

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! 🙂