Pre-Law refers to undergraduate students with an assured placement in the JD, are planning to study the Juris Doctor (JD) at the end of their undergraduate degree, or just have some interest in law.
The ‘pre-law’ area of Blackstone was created to accommodate the New Courses structure introduced in 2013. Although law can now only be studied at a postgraduate level via the JD, a number of undergraduate students will still be looking to engage with law as a discipline and this is where Blackstone’s pre-law program fills that gap.
Blackstone offers support, membership and competitions for any students who:
- have an assured place in the JD programme;
- are studying a law major as part of an undergraduate degree;
- are studying any individual law unit;
- are not currently studying any law units, but are contemplating studying law in the future.
Blackstone has a Facebook group which serves as a forum for the Pre-Law team to distribute information, but also for students to ask and discuss issues with their peers. You might also be interested in joining the general Blackstone Society Facebook group.
Are you an undergraduate student interested in law? Do you have a hankering for public speaking? Do you spend your nights hopelessly wishing you were Harvey Spectre or Alicia Florrick grilling people in the courtroom? Well read on because you’re in luck!
There are several competitions being run this year by Blackstone for any undergraduate student interested in law.
Mock Trial Competition
Involves a simulated trial where teams of two represent either the prosecution or the defence. Teams examine and cross-examine witnesses and present brief opening and closing addresses in order to convince a judge that they’re right. Given this fact-finding objective, no knowledge of the substantive law is necessary, and only limited pre-trial preparation is required. This is a great opportunity to develop skills in public speaking, information gathering and persuasive argument.
Involves teams of two representing one of two parties involved in a dispute. Given a set of facts regarding the situation and what they’re specific client wants, teams will attempt to negotiate points of disagreement in order to try to come to a settlement. No experience is necessary and only limited preparation is required. This is a great opportunity to develop skills in communication, teamwork and negotiating.
Involves teams of two representing one of two parties involved in a civil dispute. Given a set of facts teams must argue points of law in order to prove their case. Some basic knowledge of law is necessary and some preparation is required. Experience in this competition is the most applicable in the classroom as it serves as an opportunity to develop your skills in legal argument. It also helps to develop your skills in public speaking, communication and teamwork. It is perhaps the closest experience that a student can have whilst at university to appearing in court.
This year Blackstone will run two competitions alongside for the Mooting Competition. A 1st year Moot and a Pre-Law Moot. This will allow students aspiring to the JD to practice Moot at a higher level, and for the first years to be able to compete past the first round.
For those considering continuing on to study in the post-graduate Juris Doctor programme, studying one of the two undergraduate law majors (Law and Society, and Business Law), or at least taking a few units from them, would be extremely useful and highly recommended. Both majors will give you a great foundation with which to begin the JD due to the thought processes and methods you will develop as well as great background knowledge.
Law and Society
Law and Society is offered within the Bachelor of Arts as one of the two undergraduate majors offered by the Faculty of Law. This major examines broad theoretical issues about the nature of law and society as well as how the relationship plays out in particular fields of legal and social policy at both domestic and international levels. These issues include human rights, decisions about birth and death, crime and justice, Indigenous rights, freedom of expression and religion.
Within the major are two first year (level one) core units and then one second year (level two) and one third year (level three) core units. These core units are centred around providing a solid and significant base centred around basic knowledge of Australia’s legal system as well as helping you to develop important skills in research, analysis, teamwork and communication.
In addition to these core units you are required to choose and complete two of eight second year (level two) units, and two of four third year units (level three). These units that you get to choose from are all unique in that they focus on a specific issue or area of study and how it relates to the law.
For a full outline of the structure of the major plus links to all the units within it, please follow this link.
The Law and Society major is great at providing students with the background knowledge and broader understanding of issues to do with the law. The major allows students to branch out and learn about how different areas of society interact with the law, allowing them to build up a wide base of applicable knowledge. This knowledge can be utilised regardless of whether they decide to continue on with the JD or not after they complete their undergraduate studies.
The skills you will learn in this major include refining research and writing techniques, in both persuasive arguments and discussion based styles, as well as learning how to reference properly and collating empirical evidence.
Business law is one of two Pre-law majors offered by the Faculty of Law and is run in conjunction with the Bachelor of Commerce. The Business Law major focuses on the fundamental relationship between law and business and is ideal for those planning careers in a wide range of business areas including professional accounting, business management, international trade, and industrial relationships.
Within the major there are two first year (level one) core units, three second year (level two) core units, and then three third year (level three) core units. While the lack of elective core units may restrict students’ study direction the units themselves tend to cover many legal issues, particularly in the level one and two units.
The core units of the major cover a basic introduction to the Australian legal system before giving students their first look at critical pieces of legislation in Australia such as the Corporations Act, the Competition and Consumer Act, and a number of torts.
For a full outline of the structure of the major plus links to all of the units within it, please follow this link.
The Business Law major offers numerous benefits to any student that chooses to undertake even a few of the offered units, particularly if they are considering the post graduate Juris Doctor program. While both Pre-Law majors equip students with high-level analytical, problem-solving, research, and communication skills, the Business Law program is particularly beneficial in terms of acting as in introductory program for the actual legislation and case law that will be studied in further post-graduate studies. Students who have aspirations to study the JD are encouraged to take Introduction to Law (LAWS1104). This unit offers the best indication of possible future enjoyment and aptitude for legal study.
Furthermore, this major is often seen as offering many complimentary units to secondary majors such as accounting, where it is necessary to complete Company Law (LAWS2301) in order to attain a professional accounting accreditation.
The Business Law major is a diverse program that offers students the opportunity to excel across the board, from areas of the law of law that can be highly technical, such as taxation law, to areas that require a much larger degree of legal interpretation, such as torts.
The skills you will develop in this major are focussed around problem solving, applying theory into practical situations. You will develop the critical thought processes needed to solve legal problems as well as learning how to get your answers down on paper.
What is the JD?
The introduction of the postgraduate Juris Doctor (‘JD’) at UWA in 2013 has given rise to many questions from pre-law students about the nature of the JD, entry requirements, the nature of assured JD places, as well as how the JD will differ from the LLB. As a result, the Blackstone undergraduate sub-committee has put together a ‘JD FAQ’ targeted at pre-law students. This short FAQ provides detailed information about the JD, including guidance on what it means to maintain a minimum GPA if a student has an assured JD place.
1. Why is UWA Law School moving to the Juris Doctor?
UWA Law School is moving to the Juris Doctor to be more consistent with practices both overseas and in other Australian universities. For example, the Juris Doctor is now offered at 12 Australian universities, such as ANU and Melbourne University, and it is also the standard law degree in Canada, the United States, and Hong Kong. This means that the Juris Doctor degree will allow you to immerse yourself in international law practice much faster than if you were studying the LLB.
2. So what is the Juris Doctor?
As mentioned previously, The Juris Doctor is the standard requirement for admission into legal practice in several overseas countries, and it is being increasingly used in Australia, Hong Kong and other Asian-Pacific countries. Here at UWA, it is undertaken as a postgraduate degree, sometimes referred to as a ‘professional’ degree. This means that you undertake the Juris Doctor after having completed a more general undergraduate degree (such as a Bachelor of Arts, Science, Commerce or Design degree).
Unfortunately the degree does not entitle you to use the title of “Doctor,” as this requires a further level of study.
3. How is the Juris Doctor structured?
The Juris Doctor requires no pre-requisite subjects, which means it can be studied following the completion of any undergraduate degree, with any subject major. The goal of the syllabus is to get you to a position where you are suitably qualified to practise law. The layout of the degree aims to give you an in-depth insight into the fundamental concepts of the law, before allowing you to expand and follow your particular interests. As such, the syllabus follows the structure shown here.
4. How does the Juris Doctor differ from the LLB?
The LLB is the Bachelor of Laws degree that UWA used to offer to those interested in pursuing legal study (offered until 2011). Both the Juris Doctor and the old LLB are intended to be the basis for legal practice, however under the Juris Doctor there are some key advantages. These include:
Compulsory units will have 25% more class time under the JD
A greater emphasis on legal skills; such as drafting and research
- The Juris Doctor will have an overall course director and individual year group coordinators to improve communication between yourself and the law faculty.
- Greater scope for integration into international programs is possible.
5. Is the Juris Doctor more expensive than the LLB?
In terms of fees and expenses, there is little difference between UWA professional level degrees (such as the JD) and its undergraduate programs. This means that the Juris Doctor is supported by the Commonwealth Government through HECS/HELP, with similar qualifying requirements to those that you’re used to as an undergraduate student.
Furthermore, The Juris Doctor requires the completion of only 24 units (which is 3 years full-time). This is a lot shorter then the old LLB (it required 32 law-specific units), which means that to get a Law degree, you’ll be spending less money under the JD than you would have under the LLB. However, as has been mentioned previously, you’ll need to have completed a general undergraduate degree before starting your JD.
6. Will Employers like the Juris Doctor?
There is no evidence to suggest that employers prefer the LLB over the Juris Doctor. In fact it is more likely that the Juris Doctor is the preferred degree of employment, as:
- Firms wish for greater emphasis on legal skills
- There is ongoing communication between the Law school and the profession
- UWA Law School has 80 years of outstanding law graduates
7. Are there any unit pre-requisites for the Juris Doctor?
There are no prerequisite units for the Juris Doctor. However, you may like to consider taking one or more of the undergraduate law major units for interest or to see if you actually enjoy the law. Alternatively, undergraduate students are able to take up one of two new Law majors – Law and Society (Arts) and Business Law (Business/Commerce).
8. Will I be disadvantaged if I have not completed a ‘Law and Society’ or ‘Business Law’ major?
You will be at no disadvantage if you have not taken a undergraduate law major, as all topics necessary for the Juris Doctor will be taught during the degree.
9. I have an assured place in the Juris Doctor. Can you give me some information concerning the condition that I must maintain a GPA of 5.5 during my undergrad degree to keep my assured entry?
The 5.5 GPA requirement for an Assured Pathway student is assessed on the GPA at the conclusion of the student’s undergraduate degree. Whilst you do receive an ongoing GPA at the end of each study semester, this GPA does not affect your place as an Assured Pathway Student in the Juris Doctor.
The reality is that if you have achieved the marks to be offered an Assured Pathway place, it is unlikely that you will fall short of this requirement after your 3 years of undergraduate study.
Unfortunately, if your GPA does fall below 5.5 and you are not able to bring it back up to the required level, then you would not have the sufficient grade to take up your Assured Entry position in the Juris Doctor.
10. If I do lose my assured entry position, would it be too late for me to apply to enter the Juris Doctor that year? Would it be competitive?
The total number of places in the Juris Doctor program each year is approximately 350, including 100-120 Assured Pathway places.
As already mentioned, In order for you to lose your Assured Pathway place, you must have a final GPA of less than 5.5. Given the limited places in the program and the competitive nature of the JD, it would likely be difficult for you to earn a general pathway entry into the Juris Doctor if you did not meet the requirements to maintain your assured entry pathway.
Ultimately, if you have achieved less than a 5.5 GPA, you would not be considered to be qualified for general entry, as this is the University’s minimum requirement for general entry applicants.
11. Where can I get further information?
For more information on the Juris Doctor at UWA, please visit the Law School website: http://www.law.uwa.edu.au/courses/juris-doctor-jd or email the Law School administrative officer, Tash Terbeeke at firstname.lastname@example.org