Juris Doctor Online

Olivia Sparrow

The law school has recently introduced the JDO – a Juris Doctor degree wholly delivered online. Teaching has just begun, however there’s been a bit of a backlash since the announcement, particularly from the postgraduate community on campus. Queries abound of ‘Do I still have to get up for 9am lectures?’ ‘But what is this crazy new technology?’ ‘Won’t this dilute the reputation of my degree?’ ‘Will they have to still pay the student and amenities fees?’ So here’s the rough breakdown.

The JDO will give online students the same qualification as on-campus JDs, so everyone will end up with a Juris Doctor at the end. The ‘O’ part is merely short-hand for the law faculty to differentiate between the students. The faculty insists that the new degree will not detract from the current on-campus version; it will instead allow students who would be otherwise unable to study postgrad law, i.e. those who can’t pick up and move to Canberra (or any other university town that offers the JD).

However, there are gaping inconsistencies between the two degrees. The JDO will be delivered in an entirely different style. Classes will be delivered in small ‘webinars’ (whyyyy does this word exist) with far fewer students than tutorials and seminars on campus. There won’t be lectures. Rather, the JDO classes start with a ‘trigger question’ to prompt discussion and research – a complex and multi-faceted problem with the aim of students learning content in collaboration and through the lens of the question. This combination of online delivery with trigger questions is purportedly a world ffirst. But does it mean that on-campus students could be disadvantaged with their larger class sizes and conservative teaching delivery?

Additionally, JDO courses differ from those on-campus. Taught according to a ‘tri-cluster’ system (i.e. all subjects underpinned by concepts of FAL, legal theory and LJE), subjects are combined to be more logical for legal practice, such as torts and litigation, equity and corps. The theory is that students will gain a broader and more practical understanding, and avoid that pesky ‘you’ll learn that when you’re older’ answer. While these subjects will be differentiated from the on-campus subjects with different titles and course codes, they’re no longer comparable to the on-campus subjects. It’s problematic that the faculty insists that online students are getting the same degree while studying completely different subjects, whether or not the students ultimately achieve the same outcomes.

Finally, JDO students will have to pay the same amount as on-campus students, despite discrep- ancies in the forms of course delivery. Their fees will also include students and amenities, even though they’re not on-campus to enjoy most of them. There will also be issues with representation of JDO students by organisations such as PARSA and the LSS, who currently feel unable to adequately communicate and engage with this new online community.

As Education Director, I think online delivery of the JD could be an accessible and inclusive option for people who can’t or don’t want the lifestyle and culture of on-campus delivery. But there are some fundamental shortcomings in the arrangements that disadvantage both on-campus and online students, as well as logical inconsistencies that haven’t been addressed by the faculty.

If you have any thoughts, contact your law reps in the LSS: lsseducation@anu.edu.au, and PARSA: parsa@anu.edu.au.

Aurora Internship

-Matthew Barton

Canberra: one name that automatically dredges up memories of visiting Parliament House and the War Memorial on primary school excursions. Canberra: one name that immediately conjures vivid imagery of inescapable round-a-bouts, milkshakes, fireworks and Lake Burley Griffin. Canberra: the one name that really makes you miss Sydney and Melbourne. This list is, of course, largely farcical; there are many more things to Canberra that make it unique and special.
One notable absence from this list is the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) which is situated near the National Museum of Australia and the edge of the Australian National University. AIATSIS is one of the premier research bodies into a large range of Indigenous issues, culture, history, native title and policy. In what may appear from its exterior, an unassuming building actually contains a vibrant and diverse environment of research and passion.

In 2015 I was fortunate enough to have been granted a social science internship at AIATSIS for five weeks via the Aurora Internship Program. As a part of the internship, I had the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Rod Kennett and Dr. Tran Tran at the Centre for Land and Water Research. Prior to commencing the internship I had absolutely no idea what to expect in terms of the kind of work I would be doing or the projects that I would be completing. I wasn’t sure if I would be spending hours behind a printer collecting disparate sheets of paper or making note of the seventeenth soy cappuccino regulated to 57o C with two and a half teaspoons of organic sugar. Gladly, I was not tasked with either of those things.

Whilst my supervisors and most of the AIATSIS staff were at the 2015 National Native Title Conference in Port Douglas, I was assigned with two projects. In the first project I was asked to conduct a qualitative study of Community-based Management Plans for Land and Sea Management by looking at what Traditional Owners’ and Indigenous communities’ aspirations for management of country were. In the second project, I was asked to look at the presentation, or lack thereof, of Indigenous interests and participation capacities in scientific reports addressing Australia’s ecosystems and marine areas. If those tasks weren’t already gargantuan enough, I was also assigned other tasks such as creating draft reports from various workshops from the National Native Title Conference.

What had drawn me to do internship under the Aurora Project was the desire to gain a deeper understanding about issues that Indigenous Australians face. I also wanted to be able to see how I can use the skills I have learnt in law, history and philosophy in a practical setting. Needless to say in an awfully cliché phrase, my internship experience fulfilled these aspirations and so much more. In only a matter of weeks, I felt as though I had completed a university course-worth of content. I gained deeper knowledge and new perspectives into the aspirations of Traditional Owners, the complex managerial systems needed to negotiate a cavalcade of interests in maintaining the cultural integrity of country, and the challenges communities face in accessing and protecting country. I also read widely into the successes of Indigenous Ranger Programs in relation to the ways they empower Indigenous individuals and communities, care for country and work with government agencies. The other positive outcome of my internship experience was using the skills that I have learnt in my tertiary degree thus far. I learnt that contrary to popular belief, an Arts Degree does provide some practical skills, and these skills can be used in a constructive manner.

For me, the most important part of my internship experience was the research environment at AIATSIS. All of the AIATSIS staff were fantastic and welcoming and always willing to discuss what their various projects were. In addition to this, they were always readily available to offer advice about particular areas to assist in my projects. Luckily, I was also accompanied by another Aurora Intern and a former Aurora Intern. Their company was invaluable as it meant that I always had someone to talk to or learn about what projects they were working on.

As the remaining threads of the wick, that is my internship, meet their end, I have just enough time to convince you, Dear Reader, why you should consider an Aurora Internship and undertake it at AIATSIS. If you have an interest in the issues and challenges that Indigenous people face or in the ways in which Indigenous people can be empowered and assisted, then an Aurora Internship is the most accessible way to do so. There are not many opportunities for university students to intern during their degree, and Aurora is one of the best avenues to take to acquire one. After the internship you will leave more enlightened and with a greater perspective and understanding of the issues in the lives of Indigenous Australians.

There are both summer and winter internships under the Aurora Internship Program, visit their website for more details.
Applications for the upcoming summer 2015/16 round are open on-line via the Aurora website from Monday 3rd August through Friday, 28th August at http://www.auroraproject.com.au/aurorainternshipprogram

My Exchange

-Judy Zhao
I’m currently on exchange at the University of Nottingham in the UK, using up 4 of my law electives to study European Union Law, Corporate Insolvency, Child Law and Criminal Justice on a pass/fail basis. There is a good variety of both domestic and international law courses to choose from and it isn’t difficult to take domestic law courses here, as our legal systems are very alike.

It’s weirdly similar to ANU in some ways: there are tutorials every fortnight (although most tutorials only have 7 people so you can’t escape your readings), each course has about 2 hours of lectures a week, and lecture theatres are lined with rows of Macbooks and coffee cups. But here, the lectures aren’t recorded and I must admit this semester is the first time I’ve kept up with the coursework. There are also only 8 weeks worth of lectures here, but the content is taught quickly so you learn a similar amount here in comparison to ANU.

Also, all my assessments are exams or essays worth 100%. Oh, and the exams are closed-book. Yep, no notes, no textbooks, just pure memorisation. However, you can choose to write an essay as an alternative assessment, which is what I have done, leaving me with 1 exam and 3 essays to complete.

I hope I haven’t turned you off from applying to Nottingham because I’ve truly had a really great experience so far! I have made friends with UK students through societies and at my college called Cripps Hall, I’ll be travelling through Ireland, Scotland and Italy with my exchange friends during the 1 month long mid-semester break, and my social life is definitely peaking. There are so many active societies so there’s always an event to go to, and a huge variety of sports to try out and play. Also, every night can be a night out here.

Career-wise, there are many great opportunities for law students, such as volunteering through the Pro Bono Society, participating in competitions, and of course, the many events by the Law Society. (Disclaimer: I haven’t actually joined the Law Society, but I do know they’re one of the best societies here).

I’ve only been on exchange for six weeks but I’m already beginning to dread leaving this place. This semester has really made me aware of, and appreciate, how many opportunities students are given to get involved, and when time is limited, you really do try and make the most of it. If you’re thinking of applying for a law exchange, don’t hesitate and just do it because if you want a review of my experience so far, it’s 11 out of 10, would exchange again.

LAWS0000: Foundations of First Year Law

First Year ANU Stock Photo

-Casley Rowan
After a year of struggling to reach that elusive enter score, of living out of a backpack or of making more coffees and serving more pizzas than we ever thought we would, the first year Law class of 2016 has made it to the ANU. No matter where you have come from – whether you are the school leaver, the gap year taker or the mature age student who has all the impressive things to say in class – we are all connected by the decision to study Law at what, if Schmidt has his way, will soon be the Ivy League institution of Australia. I’m not sure about you but I did feel a little like Elle Woods, when on my first day I optimistically whipped out my new Kikki K notebook and pen ready to tackle the tort of trespass. Oh how stylish and accomplished I felt, before this strange sound began to take over the Coombs Theatre…Clackity, clack clack, clacky clicky – the aggressive sound of 250 pairs of hands manically typing away as each slide changed. It was unnerving to say the least and I realized that my poor pen and paper just couldn’t keep up. So while the first few weeks of Law School consisted of me fumbling around to find a new method of note taking, it also consisted of many a night where I considered if this course was the right one for me. They call it ‘Imposter Syndrome’ – the feeling that by some complete mistake we have ended up in this place, studying fancy Latin phrases such as ratio decideni and obiter dictum (that in theory sound so easy to find but in fact seem to be hiding from me when I read a 20-page case).

So in these moments of panic, I have found myself reflecting on the reasons that we have chosen this degree in the first place. Is it because Elle Woods made it look so easy? Or because Mathew McConaughy made being a lawyer look so badass in ‘Lincoln Lawyer”? While I have to admit that the romanticized image of being a Law student certainly influenced my decision to some extent, we all know that this kind of commitment requires so much more than that. It’s easy to say that we want to make a difference in the world, but it is my strong belief that those who study, practice and teach Law can and do make a difference every single day. We are the advocates, the peace keepers, the arguers, and we uphold the order in our society which makes social cohesion possible every day. I’m not saying that other degrees can’t and don’t do this, because they do, in fact majority of Law students I know have chosen another degree along side it for this very reason. The law is very broad and thus allows us all to make an impact on a broad range of areas. Whether you’re studying Science, Actuarial Studies, Development Studies or International Security Studies like me, we are all inevitably going to make some sort of impact somewhere down the track, and I think that is a really exciting thing. Did I want to practice law when I got here? I had no idea. Do I want to practice law now? I still have no idea, but what I do know is that the ANU doesn’t pigeon hole law into either corporate or court room practice. There are so many ways to use the skills and experiences that a Law degree will give us, and I am excited for where that will take me.

What did I expect from first year Law? Lots of work, competition and dry content. Sounds great doesn’t it? While in my mind the end goal of attaining a law degree compensated for these less than ideal expectations, I will admit that I was very nervous. What I have encountered however has gone above and beyond what I envisaged. I personally have found my classmates to be engaged, inspiring and encouraging. We all like achieving here, but I am glad that for the most part, we are happy to do it together without giving false notes or hiding textbooks. It has been less intense in some aspects than I thought and more in others, for example; having a half an hour discussion in Torts about the inner workings of a sheep’s mind (“it all depends on whether the sheep choses to eat the food”) is a pretty relaxed way to start the Torts, while the intense and heart pumping race to refresh our screens at exactly 5pm in order to secure the optimum tutorial time was certainly unexpected.

And then, there is living in Canberra. ANU has heavily increased its publicity over the last few years and I would argue that its portrayal is, for the most part, very honest. The academics here are second to none; I loved being able to tell my family that my MEAS1001 lecturer was on Q&A a few weeks ago, or that the guest speaker at my Unilodge Commencement night has four Masters degrees. There is never really a typical day at ANU; mine have ranged from visits to the German embassy, to pizza nights with the LSS, to networking events with ASIO, DFAT and ASIS. Being the National University has many advantages and it is up to us to take them up and get the most out of the next five years. On the other hand, some days have been spent alone in my room, desperately trying to watch a 2-hour lecture in 30 minutes while simultaneously cleaning my room, cooking dinner and writing this article. And that’s okay too. I would recommend the study of Law, the ANU and the university experience to anyone who is interested because at the end of the day, we are all in this together (cue high school musical breakout) and it’s a pretty amazing place to be.

Opportunities: Commonwealth Youth Forum, Malta

– Carys Atkinson

Malta 2015 Commonwealth Youth Forum 2

What is the Commonwealth? Who are these nations and what are they doing? Are they just a bunch of countries that get together and put on a poor man’s Olympics? While the answer to that is technically yes, Commonwealth Nations also represent 1.2 billion youth across 53 nations and do some pretty fantastic things.

Last November, I was given the opportunity to represent Australian Youth at the Commonwealth Youth Forum in Malta. The Conference, along with 3 other forums, runs as a precursor to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). With 200 Youth Delegates from around the Commonwealth participating there was a variety of agenda meetings, panel discussions and plenary sessions to discuss the theme; ‘Adding Global Value: What Next?’ Although, I did not act as the official (voting) Australian Delegate, I represented the student led organisation CommonYouth Australia, who work with young people in Australia to increase awareness and engagement with the Commonwealth. The forum provides a space for Commonwealth youth to come together and work on action plans for a number of serious global issues, such as quality and inclusive education, creating alternate pathways for accessing medical and health services, youth policy and youth work, youth unemployment, youth entrepreneurship, climate change, disaster relief, human rights, peace and security and many, many more.

Although the week was jam-packed, there was some well-earned sightseeing time. This included getting to explore the incredible history of Malta, as well as getting to see the city of Mdina (where Game of Throne’s King’s Landing is set). Between sightseeing and incredible speakers such as Maltese government officials, UN officers and even experts and youth, delegates shared their real life struggles. This included topics such as the general failure of governments, and also closer-to-home issues such as youths faced with extreme problems of poverty, access to medical services, unemployment and more. Almost every delegate had an amazing story to tell or a crazy passion to see the world change! It is both an inspiration and intimidating to have been a part of such a motivated group of people from across the world.

If you would like to know more about the Commonwealth, the Youth Forum or CommonYouth Australia check out the links below.