Australian Law Students’ Association Conference 2017: A Recap

Conor Tarpey

This year’s Australian Law Student’s Association (ALSA) 2017 Conference took place from the 3rd to the 8th of July in sunny Canberra. ALSA is the peak representative body of law students and comprises all Law Student Societies and Law Student Associations. The annual conference, supplemented by two annual council meetings in February and September, was a chance for delegates from ALSA and all Australian LSS and LSA’s to sit down, share knowledge and discuss upcoming challenges. Alongside these meetings were several competitions open to all Australian law students such as mooting, negotiations and witness examination.

The ALSA council is comprised of elected ALSA committee members and delegates sent from most universities in Australia, usually the President and Vice-President(Education) of each respective LSS/LSA. This year I went to my first conference as Careers Officer for ALSA, over four days I sat down with the rest of the council at ANU and discussed a variety of issues. We discussed many topics such as policies for sexual harassment, how to improve turn-out and engagement at law school events, initiatives for student mental health awareness and ways to tackle to discrimination against smaller and rural law schools. Delegations from the New Zealand Law Student’s Association and the South Pacific Law Student’s Association also contributed in council meetings and delivered speeches detailing the current state of their respective law student association. Council discussions particularly help smaller, younger LSS/LSA’s talk to other universities who have dealt with similar problems and gain invaluable information to improve, whilst also being able to tap into a much larger resource pool than they could on their own. However, ALSA also ensures that older and bigger LSS/LSA’s remain in the loop and accountable for their initiatives and innovations, ensuring a high standard across all law schools.

On the competitions side, there were fierce rivalries and a lot of excitement, especially for the Championship Moot, which was held in the High Court and tackled a problem both written and judged by Justice Gummow.  Competitors were also able to go to a variety of presentations about competition skills and the future of law. However, these things paled in comparison to the social events, which included a gala at Parliament House, wild nights at Academy and Mooseheads and finally a closing event at the War Memorial Museum where Gummow delivered a speech.

ALSA is an organisation that many law students are not aware of, but it is integral in ensuring that the LSS/LSA’s of every university in Australia have open and honest communication with each other. The annual ALSA conference makes this ethos very tangible and to see students from across Australia talking to each other and competing against each other is a powerful thing. I immensely enjoyed my time at conference and would encourage any law students to do more research into ALSA and the 2018 conference, which will be held in Adelaide.

Conor is a second year Law/Finance student.