How To Choose An Australian Law School

Undertaking a Master of Laws program is a big decision but one that will enhance your future career path.
Once you’ve decided you want to study an LLM program you need to pick out the right course for you, and this could literally be anywhere in the world, so why not opt to study in Australia

Australia has a great selection of law schools, many of which are world-renowned. You might want to specialise in an area of the law that is studied in only a few law schools, which can restrict your choice. Australian law schools offer a few niche specialisms, and are a particularly good choice if you are interest in the fields of Pan Asian Law and elements of International Business Law that focus on the Chinese and Asian markets, and some law schools focus solely on certain areas. So if this area is of interest to you it could make your selection process easier.

However, if you want to focus on an area that is widely studied you'll need to use other ways of ranking courses and institutions.

Here's a summary of some of the ways you can narrow down your choices of Australian law school for your LLM program, so you can make sure you choose the right Australian law school for you.

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Rankings figures

Depending on what you are looking for in your LLM studies, law school rankings can be useful. It's important to understand that a small institution focusing on more niche areas of the law may rank differently to a law school that has a larger student body and the funding associated with that. The QS World University Rankings by subject provide an easy way of comparing law schools internationally allowing you to see if a law school in Australia ranks similarity to an institution you are more familiar with. The Academic Ranking of World Universities and the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings both offer similar international statistics. As a rough guide any law school in Australia that is part of a university in the Group Of Eight is highly regarded in Australia and globally. The Australian Department of Education collects information about universities and publishes their statistics every two years and all of these resources give you plenty of statistics to review. The Australian Group of Eight is The University of Western Australia, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, UNSW Sydney, Australian National University, The University of Queensland, The University of Adelaide, and The University of Sydney.

Courses & specialisms

LLM specialisms vary and attending an Australian law school which focuses on the areas of the law related to your interests in addition to the subject you are studying is useful to gain a wider understanding of your chosen specialism. Many Australian universities focus on International Law and International Business Law and the University of Melbourne is highly rated in this field, as is the University of Sydney with its Administrative Law and Corporate, Securities and Finance Law specialities. The Australian National University is well respected and focuses more on areas such as Environmental Law and Migration Law. Some Australian law schools that rank well, offer only one LLM speciality like Griffith University does with its Global Law LLM. 

Academic staff

It’s important to do a bit of research into the academic staff and their areas of specialism. Who were the visiting academics last year? Who are they expecting to guest lecture this year? Answers to these sorts of questions will give you an idea of what to expect. How well regarded are the academic staff in the speciality that you are planning to focus on? And is there more than one expert on the staff?

Cost of the LLM

The tuition fees of LLM programs vary between the different Australian law schools, and this may have some influence on your choice of course. In fact, international LLM students can pay anything from $20,000 Australian Dollars to over $44,000 Australian Dollars depending on their choice of law school. So make sure you do your research and find out how much you need to pay for your Master of Laws, and make sure you have enough funding in place.

Campus tours

This is a great way to get a feel for the campus and your potential fellow students. Have a think about your questions in advance, as it's easy to forget them when you are being bombarded with information. Digital tours are useful and you can always ask about any alumni that might live near to you who are prepared to answer your questions if you find travelling to the campus difficult. Some institutions will exhibit at graduate fairs, which may give you a chance to chat with someone from the campus.

Research your course

Start your networking early and speak with people who are already working in the area of the law that you want to focus on. Take their advice as to which institutions are highly regarded in their speciality. Do they suggest any further work experience or knowledge that will help? An LLM is going to be a tough course so you want to be sure that you’re well prepared and you know what you’re letting yourself in for. 

Extra-curricular activities

Check out the societies and activities on offer. Are there any law clinics or societies in your area of specialty? If so, then you should contact them and find out what their activities are. These are the extra experiences that can make a real difference to your CV once you’ve completed your LLM program.

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