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,
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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