ACU law fledglings court a new chapter

A world reshaped by a deadly global pandemic means budding lawyers are as diverse in their motivation as the legal knots they seek to untangle.

These students are part of the maiden batch to study law as the course launched at Australian Catholic University’s Brisbane campus this month.  

Among them were a potential Olympian, a mature age student and a keen debater. Another wants to apply legal skills to the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries, and all are enthusiastic about making a difference as problem solvers, not antagonists. 

Charlotte Mitchell had one eye on a law career and the other on the pool when she left St Hildas at the Gold Coast in 2018. 

While qualifying for the national team remains a target, the young swimmer was attracted to ACU’s Thomas More Law School by the requirement to perform up to 160 hours of pro bono legal service as part of the course. 

“For me, it was the practical placements that were offered,” the 20-year-old said. “I want to practise as a lawyer so that was important.” 

Kylie Jackson was nearing completion of a commerce degree but wanted a taste of an alternative pathway.

“So, I’ve added some law units and so far, I’m really enjoying it and will probably keep going,” the 38-year-old said.

Jessica Adamczyk, 20, chose law at ACU’s Banyo campus, north of Brisbane, because it offered a broader scope.

“A dual degree was important to me,” the Bachelor of Biomedical Science/Laws student said. “I wanted to be able to follow two passions.”

Like many school leavers, Ella Matijevic, 18, was uncertain about study pathways as she approached decision time. 

“Then I did work experience at a Magistrates Court and really enjoyed it,” the St Philomena School graduate said. 

“I’ve always loved debating. It was central in my deciding for Law because enjoying what I do is important. 

Law at ACU is underpinned by a commitment to social justice. 

“The notion of lawyers as argumentative and adversarial is hopefully something we can leave behind,” said Dr Kunle Ola, a senior lecturer and discipline leader at ACU’s Banyo campus. 

“We aim to develop problem solvers who can balance the technical skills with a powerful sense of empathy.”  

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