Studying law online might not be new but Charles Sturt University’s (CSU’s) unique online law degree is certainly the first of its kind. And now the first cohort of students have graduated and are ready to be the change at the heart of regional communities, driving advocacy and improving access to legal representation across the country.
Starting in 2016, CSU’s Bachelor of Laws combines traditional ‘black letter’ law curriculum with Indigenous Australian content, sustainability, specialised regional law topics and a focus on embedding cultural competence.
The Director of the Centre for Law and Justice at CSU, Associate Professor Alison Gerard, said this internationally unique legal education equips graduates with the ability to pursue a dynamic law career, and be change makers in the legal profession and their community.
“Our students are attracted to the flexible online legal education we provide in a supportive learning environment. We bring students together at residential schools to promote collaboration with each other, with legal academics and to learn from the best practitioners in the legal profession.”
“Charles Sturt University not only offered flexibility, it also provided a supportive environment and unlike other institutions it encouraged us to think about the needs of Indigenous and other minorities in all aspects of law.” Ilvana Nanic, CSU law graduate
Law graduate Ilvana Nanic said that being in the first intake of students to study law online with CSU meant she was emotionally invested in, and excited by, the CSU law program.
“Charles Sturt University not only offered flexibility, it also provided a supportive environment and unlike other institutions it encouraged us to think about the needs of Indigenous and other minorities in all aspects of law.”
Ilvana said the law program appealed to her because she aspires to a career that will make a difference to disadvantaged communities.
“Lecturers encouraged us to understand how we connect with different groups so that we get them the best outcome.”
When describing her learning experience, Ilvana emphasised that the university’s strength was the support provided by academic staff.
“CSU wants you to succeed,” Ilvana said, adding that the residential schools were also significant in her learning.
“I attended all of my residential school offerings because it was a prime opportunity for me to engage with my lecturers and other students. I was fortunate enough to have met the country’s most successful barristers and justices. Connecting with other professionals and students is of significant benefit. It encourages you to form a good network within your chosen profession.”
Fellow law graduate Miriam Dayhew said the course was well structured and expertly administered by professional and passionate academic staff.
Working full-time, Miriam said the opportunity to study law online, and the quality of the academic staff teaching the program, drove her decision to study CSU’s Bachelor of Laws.
“Staff made sure the residential schools were valuable by inviting practicing barristers and judges to speak and share their war stories so we could apply our knowledge.”
Miriam added that she would often find herself going off on tangents when studying because her reading was so interesting – a reflection of the richness and quality of the curriculum.
“The course was structured so we could look at our interests and research them. Living in regional New South Wales, I investigated GM (genetically modified) crops and used the information to talk to my farming neighbours.”
Miriam said the opportunity that the Centre for Law and Justice provided to meet an extraordinary mix of students was also highly beneficial and positive.
“The ability to talk with people from varied backgrounds added to the learning experience and helped apply theory to real-world scenarios.”
Opting to fast-track her study, Miriam studied three sessions each year. She said this was particularly helpful over Christmas when her work was typically quieter and allowed her to focus on study.
“Studying the law program was a really positive experience and it adds great value to the overall offering of Charles Sturt University”, Miriam said.