Monash University Faculty of Law

Monash University Faculty of Law
Monash University
Faculty of Law
Established 1963
Type Public
Dean Arie Freiberg, AM
Students 2800
Location Clayton, Victoria, Australia
Campus Urban
Affiliations Monash University

Monash University Faculty of Law, or Monash Law School, is the law school of Monash University in Melbourne, Victoria. Established in 1963, it offers the LLB, J.D., LLM, S.J.D., LLD and PhD degrees in law. It has been ranked as one of the top 20 law schools in the world.[1] As one of the Asia-Pacific's most prestigious and preferred law schools, its admission process is one of the most competitive in Australia.[2][3]

The Law School currently has approximately 2800 undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students, as well as several hundred academic staff, many of whom are world leaders in their field.

Currently, almost all of the senior judicial positions in Victoria - including Chief Justice of Victoria, Chief Judge of the County Court, Chief Magistrate, President of VCAT, Chief Magistrate of the Children's Court, Solicitor-General and State Coroner - are occupied by Monash Law School graduates.[4][5][6][7][8][9] The School's alumni are also prominent in business and government.

The Monash University Law Review, the School's flagship review, is one of the scholarly refereed law journals based at Monash Law School.




In the 1950s it had become clear that Melbourne's one law school would soon be unable to meet demand for legal education. This meant that although Monash was founded to focus primarily on science and technology, the university would inevitably contain a law school.[10] The need was not considered pressing enough to make Law a foundation faculty of the new university; however, when the University of Melbourne imposed quotas on law school candidates due to a lack of resources, a new law school was immediately needed to cater for the extra students. The Victorian Council of Legal Education, the Chief Justice of Victoria and the Victorian Government pushed for the overnight establishment of a Monash law school, but this was resisted by the University's Vice-Chancellor, Sir Louis Matheson, who wanted a high quality, well-planned, original faculty of law. In the end, it was over a relatively short period of time - 5 months from October 1963 to March 1964 - that a first year law school curriculum was established and two teaching staff were appointed. However, when students first arrived in 1964, they did so with the knowledge that the curriculum for their later years was still being written. The University's law library was established with impressive speed, after substantial book donations from two former Supreme Court justices. Appropriately for a law school, the Faculty's establishment was delayed by a dispute over the interpretation of the Monash University Act, concerning when and how the University Council could set up new faculties. Debate between the University, the Crown Solicitor and the Parliamentary Draftsmen eventually resulted in an amendment to the Act.

Early years

Professor David P. Derham was the Law School's first dean, beginning his term on 29 February 1964 after resigning his post as Professor of Jurisprudence at Melbourne University the day before. Immediately Derham sought to depart radically from the way that law had been taught previously in Australia. His appointment was announced on a Monday, and reportedly he was outlining detailed proposals for first year subjects by the following Friday.[11] He drastically reworked the curriculum and teaching style which his faculty had taught at Melbourne University. Monash introduced small-group teaching, interactive lectures, and a curriculum which emphasised legal skills in addition to a knowledge of the law itself.[12] According to Derham the reason for this was that the law is "not fixed and static. It moves and grows."[13] This was in contrast to the conventional style of teaching in Australian law schools, in which part-time staff members would deliver lectures to a hall of students with little or no student-teacher interaction.[14] A similar transformation later took place at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. In later years Derham also managed to establish strong international links with law schools in North America and Europe, which continue today. The first intake of law school students began in March 1964 with an initial enrollment of 149 students, after a lengthy selection and interview process. The first lecture, for the first year subject "The Legal System", was held by Professor Derham on Monday 9 March 1964, with all staff sitting anxiously in the front row.[15]

By all reports, the opportunity to develop a new and original law school excited all those involved in Monash Law School's early years. In addition to its teaching reforms, Monash also became the first law school in Australia to establish its own community legal centres, which were and continue to be run by students under the supervision of staff and other lawyers. In 1971 Monash set another precedent for Australian law schools when Professor Enid Campbell became the first female Dean of any Law School in Australia's history.

Recent history

When Monash University expanded in the 1990s, the Law School chose not to extend itself to other campuses. Instead, it chose to selectively use the University's internationalisation to create new opportunities for international study and research. The result was the establishment and expansion of international collaboration and exchange programs with law schools around the world. Additionally, the Law School established the Prato Program and the Malaysia Program, allowing its students to complete part of their degrees at the University's campuses in Malaysia and Tuscany. In 2008, Monash Law School announced that it would begin offering a dual Master of Laws with the Washington College of Law - the first such program by an Australian law school.[16]

Monash Law has made a name for itself as a dynamic and progressive law school,[17] in a field which has been criticised for being overly traditional and out of touch. It initiated numerous innovations in Australian law schools, such as the establishment of Faculty-run Community Legal Centres, staffed by undergraduate law students as part of their degrees.[18] As a result, by the early 1990s its undergraduate law program was widely regarded by the legal profession as superior to that of its traditional rival, Melbourne University Law School.[19]

Today the Law Faculty has over 2800 undergraduate and postgraduate students, providing practical legal education (PLT, through the Monash Law School PDLP) as well as formal legal education.



As one of Australia's most prestigious and preferred law schools, its admission process is one of the most selective of Australian law schools.[2][3] According to statistics recently published by the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Council, the Monash undergraduate law degree was the preferred and most sought after undergraduate law degree of any offered by a university in Victoria. Acceptance into the Bachelor of Laws requires an ENTER score of at least 99.3, meaning that students must be in to the top 0.7% of high school leavers. For double degree programs, the ENTER score requirement is as high as 99.50.[20]


Academic staff at Monash Law School publish books and journal articles across almost all areas of law.[21] Part of this research is organised around specialist centres, including:

  • The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law
  • The Centre for Regulatory Studies
  • The Australian Society of Legal Philosophy
  • The Australian Centre for Court and Justice System Innovation
  • The Centre for the Advancement of Law and Mental Health
  • The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration
  • The Commercial Law Group

The Faculty's research is further supported by eight research 'clusters': commercial and private law; criminal law and justice; family law; innovation and information law; international, European and comparative law; legal philosophy and legal theory; public law, government and regulation; and the legal profession.[21]

Monash Centre for Regulatory Studies

The Monash Centre for Regulatory Studies is a teaching and research centre with a multidisciplinary focus, leading studies on the regulation of areas such as business, health sciences and technology.[22] The current Director of the Centre is Professor Graeme Hodge.[23]


The following legal journals are based at Monash Law School:

Law Library

The Monash University Law School (David Derham Law School Building) Clayton Campus.

Student Areas

The Law School Library is split over 4 levels in the David Derham Law School Building. Academic staff offices surround the library. The main areas of student activity are located on the first level;

  • The Discussion Room provides an open space for students to carry out work and discussion.
  • The Quiet Study Area towards the back of the building, overlooking Ring Road North on campus, is a quiet area, but not silent, where most students carry out work.
  • Level 1 Computer Labs provide computer and internet access for students and staff. Printing facilities and photocopiers are also present within the Computer Lab area.
  • Level 4 Computer Labs provide much the same functionality, but provide access for postgraduate students located on campus.
  • The lounge is another area for students to read newspapers, chat and often nap. The newspapers provided include The Age, The Herald Sun, Australian Financial Review, The Australian and Lawyers' Weekly.
  • The Monash Law Students' Society office (colloquially 'LSS') and the adjoining recreation room provide LSS members and LSS officials' office space, couches and tea and coffee facilities.


The Monash University Law Library houses a major collection of printed and electronic material. Most Commonwealth jurisdiction law reports can be found, including non-official and official reports. These include law reports from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Pacific Island regions, the United States and Europe. A vast array of electronic materials such as journals, articles and professional publications can also be found on a substantially large number of commercial and local databases that students have access to.

There is a large focus on online learning, as there is as much focus as being on campus - which has resulted in programmes such as the Skills, Ethics and Research modules, being heavily based on online assessment work and tasks, as well as the vast majority of lectures being made available online in taped RealMedia format.

This push for an uptake in technology is reflected by the fact that the Law Library was the first fully wireless accessible building; encouraging students to take advantage of wireless Internet access within the building, and often on the lawns of the grounds surrounding the Law Library. This has also been recently reflected in the further addition of 30 new computers, to form a 4th Computer Laboratory on the 2nd floor of the Law School building.

A relatively large staff run the library, helping students, organising books, carrying out repair work and supervision of the law library. Some of the staff have are perceived to be on the same level of students, being friendly, helpful and social.

The Monash Law library is often seen as very well resourced and particularly quiet, which attracts students from other faculties to study within the library.

Community Legal Services

Monash was the first law school in Australia to incorporate Community Legal Services into its teaching programs.[24] Currently, the Monash Law Faculty runs two Community Legal Services. The Monash-Oakleigh Legal Service, which includes the Family Law Assistance Program, is located just outside the western border of the University's Clayton Campus.[25] The Springvale Monash Legal Service, including the South East Centre Against Sexual Assault, is located in the South-Eastern Melbourne suburb of Springvale.[26] The Springvale service is now the oldest continually running community legal service in Australia.[27] Among the students who were first to participate in the program in 1973 include the current Chief Justice of Victoria Marilyn Warren and current Chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Tony D'Aloisio.[28]

These centres operate to provide free legal services and education to meet the needs of the community. They are supervised by full-time and part-time qualified legal practitioners, but are essentially run by law students at Monash. Working at one of these centres for a semester or a summer is part of the Law School's Professional Practice units, which count towards the Monash Bachelor of Laws. Student volunteers undertake a range of responsibilities, including interviewing clients, negotiating with other parties, letter drafting, preparing wills and court documents, and appearing in court on their client's behalf. Although most tasks are carried out by the students, they are under the supervision of practising solicitors.[29][30] The Centres provide legal advice in areas such as criminal law, employment law, debt and family law.[31] They also produce publications on law reform.[32]

Since Monash's establishment of Community Legal Services in the early 1970s, similar programs have been introduced at other Australian law schools, such as the University of New South Wales

Notable alumni

Monash Law School, though relatively young, has produced some notable graduates who are currently leaders in politics & government, the law, business, social services & philanthropy and the media. Presently, almost all of the senior judicial positions in Victoria - including Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Chief Judge of the County Court, Chief Magistrate, President of VCAT, Chief Magistrate of the Children's Court, Solicitor-General, Director of Public Prosecutions and State Coroner - are occupied by Monash Law School graduates.[4][5][6][7][8][33]

Politics & Government

Judiciary and the Bar


Social services and academia

Media & the Arts


Notable academic staff

Monash Law School has many nationally and internationally renowned academic staff, who are distinguished by either having worked in the profession or gained recognition in the academic sphere.

Notable Monash Law academic staff include:


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "VTAC Course Index 2007" (PDF). Victorian Tertiary Admissions Council. Retrieved 2007-07-16. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Students turn their backs on teaching". The Age (Melbourne). 15 January 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Did you know - (Monash Memo, 21 November 2007)
  5. ^ a b "All rise for Marilyn Warren". The Age (Melbourne). 5 September 2004. 
  6. ^ a b Biographical Information
  7. ^ a b Ian Gray - Prominent Monash Alumnus
  8. ^ a b Welcome to Monash University Law School
  9. ^ New Victorian coroner a Monash graduate - (Monash Memo, 12 December 2007)
  10. ^ Peter Balmford, "Foundation of the Monash Law School", Monash University Law Review, vol. 15, 1989, p. 139
  11. ^ Peter Balmford, "Foundation of the Monash Law School", Monash University Law Review, vol. 15, 1989, p. 165
  12. ^ ALRC - On-line
  13. ^ David P. Derham, An Introduction to Law, Sydney, Law Book Company, 1966
  14. ^ ALRC - On-line
  15. ^ Peter Balmford, "Foundation of the Monash Law School", Monash University Law Review, vol. 15, 1989, p. 174
  16. ^
  17. ^ ALRC - On-line
  18. ^ Community Legal Services
  19. ^ Simon Marginson, Monash: Remaking the University, Allen & Unwin, 2000, p. 237
  20. ^ Ancora Imparo, February, 2008 - (Monash Memo, 20 February 2008)
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^ Centre for Regulatory Studies
  23. ^ Professor Graeme Hodge, Monash Law
  24. ^ Practical Legal Training
  25. ^ Monash Oakleigh Legal Service
  26. ^ Springvale Monash Legal Service
  27. ^ Did you know - (Monash Memo, 5 March 2008)
  28. ^ Did you know - (Monash Memo, 5 March 2008)
  29. ^ Monash Oakleigh Legal Service
  30. ^ Springvale Monash Legal Service
  31. ^ Monash Oakleigh Legal Service
  32. ^ Springvale Monash Legal Service
  33. ^ New Victorian coroner a Monash graduate - (Monash Memo, 12 December 2007)

External links

Coordinates: 37°54′47″S 145°7′55″E / 37.91306°S 145.13194°E / -37.91306; 145.13194

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