law stu­dents

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Gadens Law­yers have caught the atten­tion of many a law stu­dent with their out­rageous approaches to mar­ket­ing them­selves as an attract­ive, pro­gress­ive employ­er.

This year was no dif­fer­ent, and I couldn’t res­ist snatch­ing their advert from a law school notice­board (after the applic­a­tions have closed) to bring you a choice selec­tion of altern­at­ive applic­a­tion meth­ods. Sat­is­fy­ing any of the fol­low­ing would, appar­ently, “entitle you to an instant inter­view”:

  1. List the middle names of all the part­ners of Gadens Sydney as at 30 June 2008
  2. Draft your applic­a­tion entirely in prose, in the format of Dr Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham”
  3. Accom­pany your applic­a­tion with an Elle Woods style applic­a­tion DVD.

The fli­er then says, “Attempt­ing to sat­is­fy all 3 cri­ter­ia is just plain show­ing off.”

I was actu­ally curi­ous enough to look into these three cri­ter­ia. First, the middle names: their web­site has a list of part­ners in Sydney, but I saw no middle names. I sus­pect you’d either have to be an insider or know an insider (in which case, you’re look­ing good any­way), or email each and every one of them and risk suf­fer­ing their wrath.

For the second one, I may just be a phil­istine, but I’ll admit that I had to look up the Green Eggs and Ham ref­er­ence.

Enoch I am
I am Enoch
I am Enoch
Enoch I am

That Enoch-I-am!
That Enoch-I-am!
I do not like
that Enoch-I-am!

Do you like
bor­ing old law firms?

I do not like them,
Enoch-I-am.
I do not like
bor­ing old law firms.

OK, I give up — espe­cially after find­ing out from Wiki­pe­dia that the entire book is writ­ten using only 50 dif­fer­ent words.

Finally, while I have observed that a num­ber of select indi­vidu­als at law school would fit right into the set of Leg­ally Blonde, I sus­pect they have at least some meas­ure of self-dig­nity. But law stu­dents prove me wrong all the time.

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There are few things that law stu­dents at Sydney Uni­ver­sity and at UNSW will defend more pas­sion­ately: the qual­ity of their respect­ive insti­tu­tions — just which law school is bet­ter?

I don’t pro­fess to have the answer to this ques­tion, because it is unfair for me to answer this ques­tion when I have only atten­ded one of them (Sydney). How­ever, surely, a recourse to stat­ist­ics would provide us with an object­ive answer?

And with stat­ist­ics, UNSW has pro­claimed them­selves the King of Law Schools in Aus­tralia. They claim:

The Fac­ulty of Law at the Uni­ver­sity of New South Wales in Sydney leads all Aus­trali­an uni­ver­sit­ies for the qual­ity of learn­ing and teach­ing law. This is the second con­sec­ut­ive year the Fac­ulty of Law, togeth­er with UNSW Aus­trali­an School of Busi­ness, has achieved the top rank­ing in the busi­ness, law and eco­nom­ics cluster.

This claim is fol­lowed by a bunch of graphs that show that UNSW scores high­er on a num­ber of met­rics, includ­ing “over­all sat­is­fac­tion”, “gen­er­ic skills” and “good teach­ing” as meas­ured by the Group of Eight. So far, this is all very con­vin­cing evid­ence that UNSW is bet­ter, right?

As Daniel poin­ted out when we were per­us­ing these graphs togeth­er, there is a fun­da­ment­al flaw with the stat­ist­ics as presen­ted. Where would they obtain meas­ure­ments for met­rics such “over­all sat­is­fac­tion” from? From their gradu­ates of course. Unless they per­formed some kind of nor­m­al­isa­tion between the dif­fer­ent uni­ver­sit­ies, the out­come is liable to be affected by, for example, the dif­fer­ence between what Sydney and UNSW law stu­dents expect from their courses (maybe Sydney stu­dents just demand more?) or bias arising from the pride that stu­dents have in their own insti­tu­tion.

Clearly, stat­ist­ics are one factor to con­sider in your choice of law school or uni­ver­sity. How­ever, it would be a mis­take to base your decision merely on these stat­ist­ics, or oth­er stat­ist­ics such as the pro­por­tion of gradu­ates in full-time employ­ment after a year (maybe more stu­dents from a par­tic­u­lar uni­ver­sity went into post-gradu­ate study?). There is more to uni­ver­sity than that. You need to con­sider the exper­i­ence out­side the classroom, in the form of clubs and soci­et­ies and extra­cur­ricular activ­it­ies. There is also a dif­fer­ence in cul­ture that you need to con­sider. This was best high­lighted for me when I watched the UNSW Law Revue last year; their jokes weren’t funny to me for the most part, yet all the UNSW-ers seemed to enjoy it; I put it down to a dif­fer­ence in cul­ture.

So what do I think? I cer­tainly don’t regret choos­ing Sydney Uni­ver­sity (for both my sci­ence and law degrees). I enjoy the intel­lec­tu­al­ism that per­vades the place, although law stu­dents at Sydney tend to be more com­pet­it­ive than I find optim­al.

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Sydney Uni’s law stu­dents had their annu­al she­bang last night — and what bet­ter way of show­ing off extra­vag­ance than to have it at the Sydney Town Hall. Com­plete with eleg­ant red car­pet, a seem­ingly end­less sup­ply of alco­hol, and more staged poses and cam­era flashes than the paparazzi could muster, Sydney’s future leg­al fra­tern­ity, includ­ing the who’s who of the Sydney Uni­ver­sity Law Soci­ety, partied the night away to loud music, obli­vi­ous to the poten­tial dam­age to their hear­ing and hence the poten­tial for con­sequent multi-mil­lion dol­lar law­suits. The atmo­sphere was indeed well-staged; the night’s enter­tain­ment, star­ted off by a per­form­ance on the Town Hall’s famed organs and quar­tet pieces — evid­ently a nod at high cul­ture — com­ple­men­ted the them­at­ic light­ing dis­played on the ceil­ing, a com­bin­a­tion as sat­is­fact­ory as the cham­pagne that accom­pan­ied the fine din­ing on offer. In the end, noth­ing was alto­geth­er sur­pris­ing, noth­ing out of the ordin­ary to make the con­ser­vat­ives present cringe — there were the Asi­ans who hung back chat­ting and play­ing with their cam­era phones, the adven­tur­ous and the drunk who removed art­icles of their cloth­ing, and the eco­nom­ic misers among us who eagerly awaited the present­a­tion of desert, going around to deser­ted tables and eat­ing theirs too. A few Cinder­el­las would have lost their glass shoes by the end of the even­ing. And hence fun was had by all; of course, when dawn breaks and the alco­hol wears off, it’s back to the books and the clerk­ship applic­a­tions.

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