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Law Schools in Australia

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Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 1
Law Schools in Australia
Thu Jan 18, 2007 08:20 AM
Hey guys, sorry if this is a repost, couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.

Basically I've been accepted into UNSW Law, University of Queensland Law, University of Sydney Law, and ANU Law in the graduate Law programme (LLB). I know it's not an LLM but I thought you guys would be best to ask.

Basically, I can't decide which one to go to. I'm leaning toward ANU or University of Sydney. I want to know :

1. Is there a significant difference in curriculum for LLB programmes between these four universities?
2. Does anybody know which is the top ranked law school? I heard from many people it's the University of Sydney, but some others say ANU and others say UNSW.

Any other pertinent information would be really helpful,

Thanks guys,

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Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 622
Law Schools in Australia
Fri Jan 26, 2007 12:29 AM
Hi Javier,

I guess there hasn't been a respond to your post for a week because this is mainly a LLM website. However, I thought I might be able to provide you with some insight as I am currently completing my JD with University of Queensland.

For your first question, I think the curriculum for LLB programmes between these for 4 Universities are highly identical. However, due to the nature of legal studies, different codes/statutes would apply to courses like criminal law etc. There wouldn't be big differences for courses like contracts, constitutional law etc. I guess the only other difference would be some universities requiring dispute management to be completed as a compulsory while some don't as it does not fall into the 'Priestley 11' Core.

The 4 Law Schools you applied to are highly regarded in Australia but i would think that Sydney Law School stands out from the rest - even though University of Melbourne would clearly be better! In my opinion ANU and UNSW would be on-par with each other.

I think another aspect you might want to consider would be whether you learn better in Seminar delivery or Lecture + Tutorial. If I am not wrong Sydney Law School does it Seminar while the Queensland Law School does it Lecture + Tutorial style. You might also want to check which Graduate LLB Program allows you to electives from the Master of Laws courses because it would most certaintly accelerate your LLM studies later on.

Are you an international student? If you are then you might want to consider undertaking a JD since the course fees are only a little more expensive than the undergraduate fees for an LLB (Graduate) - the resulting qualification is the similar but postgraduate.

Drop me a message if you need any additional advice - not sure how useful this is though!
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Joined: 19 Feb 2007
Posts: 2
Law Schools in Australia
Tue Feb 20, 2007 02:37 AM
Gregory, perhaps you misread her request. She asked for the 'top ranked' law school. Yes im an undergrad law student and yes im biased (im currently studying in my second year for a combined law/commerce degree at the ANU). Howerver the fact remains, and as i was informed by both lawyers and academics before commencing my studies, the University of Melbourne and the ANU appear to have a slight edge in the respect that at the present state of affairs they both have the leading legal academics in the country (and this is reflected by both of these universities having such a high international standing). However if it's old-school tradition and presteige, perhaps Sydney University, even though it's not ranked as high as Melb/ANU would suit you more.

Having said that i think that all of the law schools that accepted you have a very high reputation, and perhaps you should lean towards the one you feel will compliment your lifestyle best. Also consider the various electives that each school offers as some schools have strenghts in certain areas. The ANU has specific strenghts in International and environmental law, as well as public and commercial areas of the law. I choose the ANU because of it's beautiful sprawling campus and guaranteed undergrad entry to college. However if you are into old architecture and a larger and more commercial city then Sydney or UNSW would be your first port of call.

It really comes down to personal preferences, good luck
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Joined: 22 Feb 2007
Posts: 1
Law Schools in Australia
Fri Feb 23, 2007 05:33 AM
Hello there,
I was reading your questions and the responses given and I thought I might have some helpful information. I am currently a law school student in the United States, but I have studied in Australia as well. I am not familiar with the terms LLM and LLB, but here is my advice to you. In response to determining which school to attend, I can tell you what I did. In the U.S. there are guide books that tell you various information about the law schools you are applying to or that you have been accepted. These books give you information such as the percentage that pass the bar the first time (in the u.s. once you graduate from Law School you have to take the bar, which is a standarized test that you must pass to become American Bar Association certified, which means you are able to practice in many different states). I am not sure the requirements in Australia but if you have something similar, you might want to look at the percentage, the higher the better. The book also contains information about the number of people employed before and after they graduate. You may also want to consider the number of credit hours you are required to take at one time, and the Grade Point average you must maintain at the conclusion of each semester to stay enrolled. In the states the Grade Point average requirements change depending on what year you are in school. My other suggestion is to sit in on a class if possible to see what it is like and talk to students that are currently attending that university. In the states you are not graded on participation in class so you might want to look into that to see if there are requirements for that as well. Check to see if you have a requirement to do an internship or externship before you graduate and if they have resources that help to set you up with one. That is all that I can think of at the moment. I hope that helps. Good Luck
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Joined: 04 Mar 2007
Posts: 11
Law Schools in Australia
Mon Mar 05, 2007 05:10 PM
It is prob a bit late to reply to the original post, but in case anyone reads the thread looking for similar advice I thought that I would put in my two pence worth for good measure.

I did a BA/LLB at Melbourne just over ten years ago, and have worked as judge's associate/practised/done government policy/legislative drafting ever since, but am now taking a PhD in law in the UK.

In terms of Aussie law schools, from an international (well UK anyway) academic perspective, both Melbourne and ANU stand head and shoulders in terms of overall reputation above all other law schools - including Sydney.

That said, there are no 'bad' law schools in Australia - at least not in the US sense - an LLM from any of them is well respected as each generally has strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, I would say that the most important thing to look at if academic reputation is what you are after are the courses on offer and the academics who teach (eg check out a recent article), because the University doesn't write reference, academics do. If an LLM is a lifestyle choice, well then pick your uni for lifestyle (Melb again is better than Sydney because it is a more interesting city tio live in, the Law School is in a better location and it's a hell of a lot cheaper).

For LLBs, there isn't much difference - in my expereience (having also been on interview panels) choose what state you want to qualify in, and then choose a uni that suits you and where you think that you will do your best: it is much beter to have a solid degree from a less snobby uni than a crap degree from an ivy cladded institution that you hated for three or four years.
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Joined: 10 Oct 2005
Posts: 164
Law Schools in Australia
Thu Mar 29, 2007 04:26 AM
I'll do the same and give some advice for future students looking to do an LLM in Australia. Locally, the most esteemed law schools are the G8, or, "group of eight". They would be ranked as follows.

Tier 1: Australian National University, University of Melbourne
Tier 1(a): University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Queensland (only slightly below tier 1 and brilliant schools).
Tier 2: University of Adelaide, Monash University, University of Western Australia.

Only 2 tiers and very close in terms of quality. However, ANU, Melbourne and Sydney have that prestige factor.

Cheers from down under
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soul surfer
Joined: 11 Mar 2007
Posts: 4
Law Schools in Australia
Mon Apr 02, 2007 09:05 PM
i posted a Q along similar lines before and noone replied

I guess "noone knows" or cares?

how do the top australian universities compare to U.S ones

come on people. someone has got to have an opinion
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Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 2
Law Schools in Australia
Fri May 25, 2007 05:32 AM
I really don't know where the ANU comes from - the Law program there has never been considered prestigious - except by those who have actually enrolled into it.Traditionally the best law schools in the country have been and currently are the University of Sydney and UNSW. However, it appears the industrially and academically UNSW seems to have a slight edge over Sydney.

a) Has a UAI entrance cut off over 99.00 which dictates its market demand, popularity but more importantly the calibre of the students - those who attend and graduate from the program are in the top 1% of the state. USyd is the same in this domain.
b) UNSW Law has produced 5 Rhodes scholars in the past 7 years - a record yet to be match by any other faculty let alone law. In addition, an precedented amount of Fullbright scholarships are also awarded to UNSW Law students.
c) The top two Law firms in the country - Freehills and Mallesons recruit more graduates from UNSW than any other Law program in the country.
d) According to the good universities guide - UNSW law graduates earn more on average than their state counterparts.
e) The Graduate Careers Council of Australia's national survey indicates that UNSW Law students find the educational experience much more satisfying than law students from other Australian universities.
f) The academic staff have strong industry experience as well as research clout.
g) Unlike the ANU, Macquarie and UTS, the school has strong ties with industry employers. Employers know and like UNSW degrees.
h) The university has recently constructed a new state of the art law building on campus.
i) Professor Dennis Pearce a prominent legal academic and layer declared UNSW the best law school in Australia.

All in all UNSW is also close to the CBD and Sydney's famed beaches and the campus itself is modern and fresh. The Law building itself located right next to the university pub and gym. From an honest perspective, if you go for a job in a large city such as Sydney - those who have earned a Law degree from Sydney or UNSW would have already have a competitive edge over you. This is simply because employers know how difficult it is to get into those programs and the calibre of the students that traditionally come out of them.

You can trust the ill methodology rankings canonising the ANU but here in Sydney - UTS, ANU and Macquarie have always been considered second tier to Sydney and UNSW. Anyone that lives here can tell you that's a fact.

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Joined: 19 Feb 2007
Posts: 2
Law Schools in Australia
Thu Jun 07, 2007 02:32 AM
Pray tell, if the ANU is subservient to these other schools why is it now part of the IARU, along with Oxford, Cambridge, Berkley and Yale? Your post if so Sydney-centric it's disgusting. You can keep telling yourself UNSW is the best till your blue in the face but all the international rankings show otherwise. I don't really care which is the best all the G8 are great schools, your post is just ignorant.
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Joined: 07 Jun 2007
Posts: 1
Law Schools in Australia
Fri Jun 08, 2007 03:03 PM
Hi, I'm new to this and I realise this is a LLM forum. But I've been reading some of these posts and they've been very useful lately. However, most of these posts are about UNSW, ANU and Sydney Uni which aren't very applicable to my situation at the moment.

I'm making a decision on whether to read law (a LLB) at University of Queensland or Monash University. I've weighed some of the pros and cons and I'm not so sure which to go to. I suppose maybe it seems like I am being silly because truth be told I just completed by A levels and they weren't so well done so I'll be doing a foundation year at either of these institutions first before entering law school. But, seeing how these foundation programmes are generally very university specific, it seems fit that I should pick which law programme I would ultimately wish to enrol in. But I digress.

I do think that Melbourne seems like a better place to live, which is a good reason why I am interested in Monash. Location is of considerable importance to me as I am an international student. Melbourne uni is no longer and option as it will not offer law as an undergraduate degree from 2008. Yet at the same time, I've come to find out that UQ has got electronic moot courts... much more technologically advanced than Monash and I find that this could come in useful although I'm not so sure how much so.

When I was registering for universities and talking to some of these counsellors who handle applications of international students such as myself, I've heard that Queensland may be a tad better than Monash. While I know the whole ranking thing is not set in stone and very subjective, I just want to hear what the general opinions of these two schools are and how each person perceives the two unis would fare when compared with each other.

I've done internships in some of the bigger law firms at home as well and I've come to see (even though it's too early to say) that I'm quite interested in civil litigation work... what are the niche areas of both UQ and Monash?

Thanks a lot for your help, your opinions will all be greatly appreciated! Any additional information about living in Brisbane/Melbourne would be useful too since I've never actually lived in either of these places! :)

[Edited by worldpeas on 08 Jun 2007]

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Joined: 19 Jun 2007
Posts: 1
Law Schools in Australia
Wed Jun 20, 2007 05:29 AM
The top two Law firms in the country - Freehills and Mallesons recruit more graduates from UNSW than any other Law program in the country.

How did you arrive at this conclusion?
What ranking provides that Freehills and Mallesons are THE top 2 law firms in Australia? Did you mean they are two OF the top law firms in Australia?

Secondly, you say that they hired more UNSW grads than any other law program. This is meaningless unless you explain how you came to this conclusion.

Are you only looking at the sydney offices of these firms? Because I'm from Qld and I could say that the top firms in Australia take more grads from Qld uni's then any other uni, which is true if i'm only referring to their Qld offices.

Additionally, sydney offices are generally the largest in Australia (sometimes taking 3 times as many grads then in other states) and obviously the Sydney offices are going to have the majority of applications from people from sydney than say from Melbourne or Qld.

So unless you've come to this conclusion considering all of these firms' offices in Australia and using the percentage of applicants from each university compared to the percentage hired then your conclusion is meaningless. (assuming you even have valid data to start with).
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Joined: 20 Jun 2007
Posts: 1
Law Schools in Australia
Thu Jun 21, 2007 06:42 AM
I'm a fourth year combined law/international studies student at UNSW. I grew up in Canberra and the only reason I didn't choose to go to the ANU instead was because both my parents went there and I wanted to move out! However, I've been very impressed with the calibre of the UNSW law degree. I decided not to go to Sydney Uni because a) it's in the city and UNSW is close to the beach and b) (I really hope not to offend anyone here- I have heaps of Sydney Uni friends to whom this does not hold true, they're great people and note I'm making gross generalisations... but:) the prestige everyone speaks of in Sydney sometimes translates to arrogance amongst student and staff alike, purely because a lot of the students have come from predominantly white, Christian, right-wing, upper-to middle-class backgrounds (and I might well fall into the category too so don't be offended!) and went to the "prestigious" sydney private schools (like John Howard for example). I have met a plethora of "trust-fund" babies who go to sydney simply because of the prestige associated with it, and I just don't think this uni is indicative of society outside the uni experience. UNSW on the other hand has a huge amount of international students and students from the country who you would otherwise never get the chance to meet, and whose opinions are just as relevant to those of richer students, who, unfortunately, will probably get further in life because of their or their parents' social status.

The reason why I've been impressed with UNSW is that it doesn't just teach the rules that you need in order to understand particular areas of law. We do 2 sessions of Property, Equity and Trusts law, whereas UTS and Sydney Uni only does one. We do 2 sessions of Criminal Law (UTS only does one) in order to fully understand the criminology behind these laws, as well as other important aspects like social utility and human rights. My lecturer from Criminal Law, wrote the textbook (as well as 4 other ppl - 2 from Macquarie Uni and the other 2 from UNSW aswell) that is used in all NSW law schools as well as in the ACT.
We have a program (the Kingsford Legal Centre- there was a show on ABC about this a year or two ago) which enables students to get first-hand experience and training in providing free legal aid to members of the public.
We have a program for Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islanders to enable many who previously- due to many social factors may have been unable to do so - to study Law.
My public (or Constitutional Law) lecturer George Williams also wrote the textbook used in many Universities and writes articles for the Sydney Morning Herald all the time. He also seems to be the first port of call whenever politicians, journalists, attorney-generals etc want to clarify any issues on International and Constitutional Law.
I honestly believe u will get a 1st-class experience no matter which G8 University u decide to attend... I'm just glad I chose UNSW
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Joined: 03 Jul 2007
Posts: 1
Law Schools in Australia
Wed Jul 04, 2007 01:32 AM
There's not much I need to add to the powerful rebuttal of "Fredster's" post advanced by other users. His post is distinguished only by its undergraduate qualities and Sydney-centric ignorance (and that's coming from a Sydneysider!) These kind of threads always generate a lot of contributions from partisan undergraduates who (a) are absolutely clueless about research performance and the fact that research performance is the crucial factor in international academic rankings in any discipline; and (b) mistakenly argue that UAI (for our foreign friends - that is the entrance score required for undergraduates) is an indicator of quality, whereas it merely reflects demand (and in so doing, is always going to favour large population centres over smaller ones - ANU being the law school most distorted by this measure).

Melbgrad is dead right on the following -

In terms of Aussie law schools, from an international (well UK anyway) academic perspective, both Melbourne and ANU stand head and shoulders in terms of overall reputation above all other law schools - including Sydney.

Yep, I did graduate study in the UK and the US and in terms of global perception, nothing other than ANU and Melbourne rate. In terms of globally competitive research output, the two big Sydney law schools (USyd and UNSW just don't cut the mustard at the moment - particularly not UNSW, which is a long way adrift of the big three. But I'm sure they will rise again. These things always ebb and flow over time.

To bring some objective measure into this debate, there is only one discipline-by-discipline ranking system for Australian universities, published by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. [If you want to read about the methodology they used, you can download the full paper at www.melbourneinstitute.com/publications/reports/dr_aus_uni/P…

The Institute reported on which Australian law schools were ranked by at least 40 per cent of international legal academics as being in the top-50 law schools globally and then those ranking in the 51-100 top law schools globally.

The ONLY Australian law schools in that list at all were Melbourne, ANU and Sydney, which were all rated in the top-50. No Australian universities appeared in the 51-100 list.

On overall ranking, domestic scholars ranked Melbourne first, followed by Sydney, then ANU. International scholars ranked ANU first, followed by Melbourne, then Sydney. (This makes sense to those of us acquainted with the faculty members of those universities - ANU has a number of scholars who publish predominantly in the US and UK, including two professors who moved straight from Chairs at Oxford.) For the occasional Sydney undergrad brat on this forum who wonders how ANU can possibly rank so highly, it is worth pointing out that a single scholar, Professor Hilary Charlesworth - who is one of the world's leading feminist scholars of international law - receives more citations in United States law journals than all UNSW academic staff combined.)

The overall rankings, combining the judgments of domestic and international legal scholars were -

1. Melbourne
2. ANU (equal)
2. Sydney (equal)
5. Monash
6. Queensland
7. UWA
8. Adelaide
9. Macquarie
10. Griffith

(for the rest, see the paper)

Incidentally, I would respectfully disagree with the suggestion that Melb is better than Sydney on grounds that it is a "more interesting city"(!), though it certainly is cheaper and I'll even concede that Melbourne Law is better located (and housed in nicer premises - though this factor will disappear with the new Syd Law School building.

(Melb again is better than Sydney because it is a more interesting city tio live in, the Law School is in a better location and it's a hell of a lot cheaper).

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Joined: 31 Jan 2007
Posts: 17
Law Schools in Australia
Fri Jul 06, 2007 02:46 AM
Well put SydneySider. I agree entirely. The only thing I would add is that, as there is always an "ebb and flow over time", pursuing a post-grad degree from Sydney or UNSW is not a bad bet because a decade or so down the track, they may be considered the leading universities for law.
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Joined: 03 Aug 2007
Posts: 5
Law Schools in Australia
Sat Aug 04, 2007 04:57 AM
When choosing a program the best thing to do is talk to current students in the program and find out their views. Speaking to graduates is fine but they may offer biased opinions since they have graduated and forgotten about their negative/positive experiences during the course of their studies.

Also try to visit the campus and sit in on some lectures. As you will be studying at the university for a number of years, the learning environment is extremely important.

Finally I would simply avoid all the university rankings altogether. Coming from a Statistcs/Law background I can say they are ALL extremely flawed. There is really no fair way that academics can fairly rank other universities - esp. at a global level. Rankings such as the Times Higher Education is particular bad as they only sampled around 2000 academics around the world - with well over ten thousand universities in the world, millions of academics and thousands of disciplines... what grants these 2000+ academics the special ability to rank and rate so fairly? In addition the THES was extraordinarily biased in that minimal academics from Africa and South America were sampled... The national rankngs offered by Melb U are just as bad... the grouping of disciplines into chucks is monsterous. For instance is Psychology grouped into Humanities or Science?

Another example, lets compare Princeton to say Melbourne University.... Princeton's internal reputation prominent however how can we equate and compare these two schools when they differ ever so much? For those of you who don't know, Princeton doesn't have a medical, business or law school whereas Melbourne does. My point is that each university is different and offers differential educational experiences/outcomes and thus it would be silly to rely on rankings from folks who more than likely have never attended nor had any personal contact/experiences with the universities that they are ranking.

I would also strongly discourage over-reliance on institutional groupings such as the Group 8 or IARU. They are simply corporate schemes used to attract more funding from government and private resources. If you attend one of the universties listed in the groups and are extremely proud of the fact that your uni is listed - than you have been by all means been sucked into the propaganda. The IARU should be looked on carely... the Harvard Crimson recently wrote an article stating how the IARU is more of a wolf pack aimed counteracting other research giants such as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Caltech and the French Ecoles...

Mind you in Sydney, UTS and Macquarie are also highly regarded as offering pragmatic and practical degrees. I personally don't think anyone here can rate Aust. universities at a national level - unless ofcourse you have attended all of them personally.

Any of the universities mentioned are pretigious in Australia in their own right so it all comes down to which learning environment you are suited towards....

Good Luck!!
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