What is Unique about a Notre Dame Law Graduate?
At the School of Law on the University of Notre Dame Australia's Fremantle Campus we understand and respect that it can be challenging to decide who you want to hire. Our aim is to go 'beyond the basics' and to produce graduates who we can be proud of, and you, as employers, can rely on.
To this end, our degree has been designed through extensive consultations with senior members of the profession. Further, we regularly review the content and structure of our degree so that as the needs and demands of the profession evolve, so too does our degree.
Some unique features of the Notre Dame Law Degree include:
A strong focus on core skills necessary for Practice.
Training for the profession is one of the Objects of the University. Consequently, the Notre Dame Law degree specifically aims to provide students with education both in the content of law and the skills needed to practice law. For example, all Notre Dame law students are required to complete a unit in Advocacy. In this unit the lecturer trains students in how to prepare for court. Using our Justice Owen Moot Court House - the authentic Fremantle Court House (circa 1884) – as a classroom, students are assessed on all stages of running a case, from writing submissions to appearing before a judge.
Ethics is embedded throughout the degree.
All Notre Dame law students complete two at least two ethics units during their degree. In their first or second year of study students will complete a general "Ethics and the Law" unit which introduces students to broad ethical issues and the theoretical foundations for living a moral life. The unit also requires them to begin thinking about unique ethical challenges involved in the practice of law and the question of what makes a 'good' lawyer.
In their final year of study, students will complete their second ethics unit which encompasses the "Priestley" content of 'Ethics and Professional Responsibility'. Bookending the degree with these two ethics units encourages Notre Dame students to view Law as a service profession and to actively consider the ethical implications of their actions.
Notre Dame law students are encouraged to recognize that their education places them in a privileged position to 'give back' to the community. Law is viewed as a profession – a group of people with specialized knowledge, adhering to ethical codes - who are in a unique position to provide services to the community. To this end, students are required to complete at least one community service activity as part of their studies. In addition, the Law in Context elective unit allows students to gain academic credit while working at an organization which provides legal services to groups in the community otherwise unable to access legal advice – such as community legal centres or the Law School's Legal Clinic.
Communication skills are developed progressively through the degree.
Our small class sizes allow academic staff to use interactive and participatory approaches to teaching. The School of Law does not offer online units and it is rare that lectures are recorded. This means that Notre Dame law students are developing their ability to communicate ideas and arguments in front of their peers. Student communication skills are assessed in many compulsory units with assessments ranging from the in-class participation to formal presentations and mock trials. Our extra-curricular Eminent Speakers Series gives students the opportunity to engage with legal professionals outside of the classroom. Presentations are followed by informal discussions and the opportunity to socialize with our eminent guests has become a highlight for many students.
Time management is an essential part of student development through their degree.
Notre Dame law students are known for having excellent time management skills. In addition, several of our past and present degree structures have had an "overload" of five or more units as standard in some semesters. Students are therefore experienced in balancing commitments, coping under stress and efficiently managing their time.
Students are required to engage with alternative dispute resolution.
A key message from our Law Advisory Board is the importance of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for today's legal professionals. All of our students must complete a unit in ADR where they develop key skills such as negotiation and recognize the differential roles of the various ADR mechanisms.