Melbourne Law School

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Melbourne Law School
Established 1857
School type Public
Parent endowment $1.12 billion
Dean Carolyn Evans
Location Carlton, Victoria, Australia
Enrollment 3500
Faculty 200
The University of Melbourne logo

Melbourne Law School (MLS or Melbourne Law) is one of the professional graduate schools of the University of Melbourne.[1] Located in Carlton, Victoria, MLS is Australia's oldest law school,[2][3] and offers J.D., LL.M, M.Phil, Ph.D, and LL.D degrees. MLS is the only Australian member of the Law School Admission Council; and, in 2013, it was ranked as the best law school in Australia and fifth best in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings.[4]

MLS has produced a large number of luminaries in law and politics, including former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, Justice of the High Court of Australia Kenneth Hayne, and the Governor of Victoria Alex Chernov.


MLS was established in 1857, when Richard Clarke Sewell was appointed Reader in Law. This was in response to demand for legal education from those seeking admission to practise as lawyers and the university's need to increase student numbers. The first students studied for a certificate that, with practical training, qualified them for admission to legal practice. In 1860 they were given the additional option of studying for a degree.[5]

MLS was expanded and reorganised in 1873, becoming the Faculty of Law.[6][7] The school continued to grow throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and underwent a major transformation with the appointment of Sir Zelman Cowen as Dean in 1951. Sir Zelman shaped MLS after the United States model, rather than the British model that is common in Australia. Sir Zelman reformed teaching, research and academic recruitment. Under his stewardship, full-time academics came to dominate teaching, instead of part-time practitioners. Many prominent international academics were invited to study at the School, and many Australians were given the opportunity to study abroad.[8][9]

In 2007 MLS accepted its last cohort of LLB students. From 2008 the only degree offered by MLS qualifying for legal practice is the graduate-entry JD. This change to an entirely graduate law school is consistent with University-wide changes occurring under Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis's Melbourne Model, although MLS does offer some subjects to the University's undergraduate students.


MLS enrols approximately 360 students each year in the J.D. program. Applications are assessed on three criteria: academic results in all previous tertiary study; LSAT score; and a short personal statement.[10]


Research centres[edit]

MLS is host to a number of research centres and institutes, specialising in a wide variety of legal fields:

  • Asian Law Centre
  • Asia-Pacific Centre for Military Law
  • Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies
  • Centre for Corporate Law and Securities Regulation
  • Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law
  • Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society
  • Centre for Media and Communications Law
  • Competition Law and Economics Network
  • Civil Justice Research Group
  • Electoral Regulation Research Network
  • Institute for International Law and Humanities
  • Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia
  • Obligations Group
  • The Tax Group


Mooting is mandated as assessment at MLS for some core J.D. subjects, such as constitutional law,[11] and is widely pursued by the student body in both internal and external moot court competitions. MLS's internal moot court competition takes place in MLS's purpose-built moot court.[12] It is organised and run each year by the Melbourne University Law Students' Society, and is currently sponsored by King & Wood Mallesons.[13] MLS students have achieved success in multiple international moot court competitions. Teams from MLS have won the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and the ELSA Moot Court Competition three times, and in 2012 a team from MLS won the IASLA Space Law Moot Court Competition.[14][15] A MLS team also won the inaugural Victorian Championship Moot in 2013.[16]

External programs[edit]

MLS offers subjects taught in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Geneva, and has partner programs with many of the world's leading law schools, including University of Virginia School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law.[17][18] MLS is a founding member of the Center for Transnational Legal Studies in London, and contributes both staff and students to the Center every year. Additionally, MLS has dual degree arrangements with the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, New York University School of Law and the Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law.[19]


MLS students are involved in preparing and publishing the Melbourne University Law Review and the Melbourne Journal of International Law. These two journals jointly publish the Australian Guide to Legal Citation, the most widely followed authority for legal citation formats in Australia.[20] MLS students also produce a newspaper, De Minimis.

Additional journals published by MLS include:

Student Organisations[edit]

Two main student organisations are associated with MLS. The first is the Melbourne University Law Students' Society, which represents all law students at the University of Melbourne. The second is the Global Law Students Association, which focuses on international legal issues, careers and provides additional support for international students at MLS.

In addition, the Postgraduate Law Student Association provides support to LL.M students. The Melbourne Chinese Law Society is also based at MLS, and facilitates the comparative study of Chinese and Australian law, as well as providing Mandarin language training to MLS students.


Below is a list of the deans of MLS from 1873 to the present:


Notable academics at MLS include:

  • Caron Beaton-Wells, competition law scholar
  • Michael Bryan, equity and restitution scholar (emeritus professor)
  • Andrew Christie, intellectual property scholar
  • Manfred Ellinghaus, contract law scholar
  • Tim Lindsey, Asian law scholar and public commentator
  • Harold Luntz, tort law and damages scholar (emeritus professor)
  • Tim McCormack, international humanitarian law scholar and Special Advisor on International Humanitarian Law to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
  • Ian Ramsay, corporate law and corporate governance scholar and public commentator
  • Cheryl Saunders, constitutional and administrative law scholar

Notable alumni[edit]

MLS has educated prime ministers, attorneys-general, governors-general, judges, deans, professors, politicians and leaders in the business world, community sector and at all levels of government, including:


International Court of Justice[edit]

High Court of Australia[edit]

Chief Justices of the High Court of Australia[edit]
Justices of the High Court of Australia[edit]

Federal Court of Australia[edit]

Family Court of Australia[edit]


Governors-General of Australia[edit]

Prime Ministers of Australia[edit]

Attorneys-General of Australia[edit]

Other Australian Ministers[edit]



Public service[edit]




  1. ^ Michael Crommelin. "Dean's Message". Retrieved 31 July 2010. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Waugh, John (2007). First Principles: The Melbourne Law School 1857–2007. Carlton, Vic.: Miegunyah Press. pp. 5–8. ISBN 9780522854480. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Waugh, John (2007). First Principles: The Melbourne Law School 1857–2007. Carlton, Vic.: Miegunyah Press. pp. 5–8, 14–16. ISBN 9780522854480. 
  6. ^ Waugh, John (2007). First Principles: The Melbourne Law School 1857–2007. Carlton, Vic.: Miegunyah Press. pp. 37–41. ISBN 9780522854480. 
  7. ^ "The Faculty of Law". Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "Zelman Cowen, 1951–1963, 1964–1966". Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  9. ^ Waugh, John (2007). First Principles: The Melbourne Law School 1857–2007. Carlton, Vic.: Miegunyah Press. pp. 176–80, 188–90. ISBN 9780522854480. 
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  20. ^ Legal citation, Guide to Legal Research, Library, University of New South Wales accessed 3 September 2011.
  21. ^
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  24. ^
  25. ^
  • Campbell, Ruth. 1977. A History of the Melbourne Law School, 1857 to 1973, Faculty of Law, Parkville. ISBN 0-909454-43-4.
  • Waugh, John. 2007. First Principles: The Melbourne Law School 1857–2007, Miegunyah Press, Carlton, Vic. ISBN 9780522854480.

Coordinates: 37°48′09″S 144°57′36″E / 37.8024°S 144.9600°E / -37.8024; 144.9600