Demonstrative evidence: Newcastle Law School ladies are fulfilling their dreams!
“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.” ― Maya Angelou
Calling all the ladies! Here’s a new approach: OzTREKK noticed that many of our Australian law school applicants are female. In fact, most of the successful OzTREKK applicants to the Newcastle Law School Juris Doctor program for the 2014 intake were female! Why is this? What makes women want to study law?
After some online snooping, we discovered that our OzTREKK ladies are fearless: Besides studying law full time, how about doing some Great Barrier Reef snorkeling and crazy skydiving while you’re Down Under? That’s what OzTREKK students do!
Here is a story of three female students—Amber, Taija, and Meena—who all applied through OzTREKK to the Newcastle JD. Oh, and all three received the Juris Doctor (JD) Scholarship for International Students! Taija has even kept track of her Aussie adventures. Check out her blog, International Wanderer: Where Studies and Travels Meet (Great insight to life in Oz… and completely hilarious!)
How did you become interested in law? What’s the male/female ratio like in the JD program?
Amber: I first became interested in studying law when I completed my Legal Assistant diploma and started working at a large law firm. I quickly realized that I wanted to be involved in a role where I was able to study the law, consider various issues surrounding the law and to find ways to resolve these issues through legal research. This is one of the aspects that I enjoy most about the law because it is always evolving. The ratio of male to female in the JD program is about 3:18. What can I say? We females like to dominate!
Taija: I’ve always had some interest in the law in some way or another, but I never thought I would go to law school. My previous job gave me an insight into the justice system, which ended up giving me the final push to apply for law school. The Newcastle JD program is very female oriented. I would say there are approximately 20 students in the class with only three of them being male. All of us range in age and all of us come from different backgrounds.
Meena: For me it was either a masters or a JD and I chose the latter. I decided that a law degree would be better for me because it gave me a better job prospect. A law degree is a great thing to have as a background no matter what you want to do. I don’t know if I want to practice but there is so much that can be done with a law background. There are a lot of females compared to males in the JD. We are about 90% women, which was surprising!
What made you choose the University of Newcastle Law School as opposed to the other law schools?
Amber: The University of Newcastle Law School offers a placement program while you are studying. This means that you will get a “real life” experience where you will get the opportunity to handle real client files. This is not very common among law schools, which I believe will give UoN law graduates an advantage against other law graduates because UoN prepares students to be industry-ready. Students will have had the chance to client interview, practice their legal research skills, problem solve, and put their negotiation and advocacy skills into practice.
Taija: I only applied to law school in Australia. I had no intention to go to a law school in Canada. I got accepted to the only two law schools I applied to but decided on the University of Newcastle because of the Diploma of Legal Practice. When I first got accepted, the program was still run as the LLB, it was an added bonus that the degree name got switched to Juris Doctor a few months before. I start the Diploma of Legal Practice part of my degree next year and I am looking forward to it. This part is a very big seller for me, even though I’ll have to go home and do my articling afterwards, the connections and lawyers that you meet are very useful and beneficial once you finish your degree, and get out into the “real world.”
Meena: I think what pushed me towards Newcastle was their practical component offered with the JD program. It gives you 180 hours a year of hands-on learning in law firms and the legal centre in your second and third years. In Australia, in order to practice law, you need to do this diploma anyways; so it’s great that it’s a required component of our program. That means once you graduate, you will be admitted right away to the Supreme Court to practice!
“Don’t be afraid. I came here knowing nobody and I have met some amazing people.” – Meena
What are you enjoying the most about the JD program?
Amber: One aspect of the JD program that I am enjoying the most is the small and integrated class sizes. In tutorials and seminars our discussions are more in-depth and I find it more beneficial to my learning because the classroom operates as a team. The University of Newcastle promotes respect and fair treatment among its students, rather than putting each student in direct competition with one another.
Taija: Honestly, the people I have met, because the JD is a graduate program, our tutorials and seminars are separate from the undergraduate students. You become very close to your classmates and forge friendships that will last a lifetime. You’re going to get the same content no matter what school you go to, but being able to volunteer at the legal center two months into your first semester and getting to sit in with a real client, will most definitely reinforce your decision to stay here and continue your law degree at the University of Newcastle.
Meena: I really like the professors here at Newcastle. Everyone is so welcoming and patient. The class sizes are good for seminars because we are a pretty small class (about 20 of us). I also like the fact that it is not a 100% final exam, but rather assignments throughout the year to help you understand what you’re learning.
What are your plans after graduation? Articling?
Amber: I plan to stay in Australia once I have graduated from UoN. I know a few people from Canada, who now live here and they have provided me with some very helpful resources on the process of moving to Australia permanently. After graduation, I see myself in a medium- to large-size law firm in Sydney, and of course visiting the beach on a regular occasion!
Taija: I plan on going back to Canada after I finish my law degree, write the NCA exams and hopefully get a job at a law firm articling. Since the Newcastle JD program is automatically combined with the GDLP (Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice), it is basically the same as articling. I’m not going to lie, at first I was bummed out that I was basically doing the same thing twice; I now look at it as advantageous. Doing a law degree internationally can cause some hurdles when moving back to Canada, but having the GDLP under your belt will give you a step up from other students who will be articling with you as you have already done 360 hours of practical legal training under some really great lawyers in Australia.
“You become very close to your classmates and forge friendships that will last a lifetime.” – Taija
Meena: I honestly don’t know what I will do afterwards. I know I don’t want to stay in Australia after I graduate. I am hoping to eventually do a PhD somewhere in North America. My goal is to move to the US once I am done, but we’ll see how that goes. We can always practice at home, after completing the exam process in Canada.
Do you have any tips/advice for Canadian students who would like to attend Newcastle Law School?
Amber: My advice to future UoN students is to do your research before you come. There are things that you do not even think of before you leave. For instance, if you are a fan of Cheese Whiz like I am and cannot live without it, you will not be able to get it here. So make sure you pack your “must haves.” I also suggest coming to Australia a few weeks before classes start to get yourself orientated with your new surroundings because it does take some time getting used to it. This has been one of the biggest decisions I have had to make in my life and I do not regret it one bit and I am sure any future students will love it just as much as I do.
Taija: Yes, it will be hard. Yes, you will get homesick. But remember that your classmates and new friends become your new family. You will not be the only one who wants to give up and go home, because you’re broke, and the bugs are huge, and it gets a lot colder in Australia than anyone told you it would, but coming to the end of my first year I’m so happy I did it. I’ve made some awesome new friends, and believe it or not, most of them are Canadian who are going through and feeling the exact same thing you are. Get an apartment, invite friends over, and celebrate holidays you would normally celebrate at home. It helps and it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out on something you would normally have at home (it helps with the homesickness, too).
Meena: Don’t be afraid. I came here knowing nobody and I have met some amazing people. It will be hard though. I lived away in undergrad but I was always an hour drive away from home. Australia was a big move. It will take time to settle in. Things are not the same here as they are at home. But every country has its own ways and traditions, and there are things that don’t even surprise me anymore. Newcastle is also a big campus! It is built basically on bushland so tons of greenery. Lots of hills as well!
The JD students are lucky because we really only have classes in a few buildings located in the same area; this means we aren’t stuck walking 15 minutes in between classes. They have also made our schedule nicely and we have two days off this year, which works out great! The city of Newcastle is great to live in. Its one of the biggest cities in Australia, but it only has a population of about half a million. If you live in the CBD, you are a few minutes away from everything you need (supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, night clubs, etc.). The train system is great; its gets you anywhere in the city as well as anywhere on the coastal line to Sydney! It isn’t very expensive either; for example, a train ride to Sydney is about $6!
OzTREKK note: In 2017, the University of Newcastle moved its Faculty of Business and Law to the new $95-million, state-of-the-art NeW Space facility, right in the heart of the city of Newcastle!
“This has been one of the biggest decisions I have had to make in my life and I do not regret it one bit and I am sure any future students will love it just as much as I do.” – Amber
Where are you living? How did you find your accommodation? Tips?
Amber: I am living in NewSA, which is a student accommodation in Tighes Hill. It is a central location, about 15 minutes to Callaghan campus by bus and not to far from the shops. It is also a short bus ride to the beach. I would suggest living in NewSA as it is an amazing place to live and a great place to make friends. I found my accommodation before I left Canada through Facebook. I would do substantive research on your accommodation options before you leave and I suggest not living close to the uni if you like to go out or if you are wanting to get a job while studying and do not want to rely solely on public transport.
Taija: I am currently living in an apartment in the heart of Newcastle with a fellow classmate who is also from Canada. When I first moved to Australia I figured I would just live on campus because it was easy to find, and easy to apply for. If you are a graduate student who would like to get any type of studying done, do not live on campus. I would recommend either finding student accommodation off campus or find a studio apartment somewhere in the city near a train station, as that is the best way to get to campus. I found my apartment on a real estate website online and just emailed the agent; they are very helpful in helping you find exactly what you are looking for.
Meena: I started off by living in residence, which did not work out well for me. I lived on residence at the University of Waterloo as a first year in my undergrad, which was great, but I found that being an older student pursuing a postgrad degree, the residences at Newcastle were not for me. Luckily, Taija felt the same way, so we ended up moving off campus to a more CBD location mid-April. We did, however, face a pretty hefty fee for breaking contract with the uni accommodation, but it has been worth it! I suggest living off campus for Juris Doctor students because campus residences are a bit noisy. However, the new residences seem to be very nice; they are self-catered and are not badly priced.
What do you do in your free time?
Amber: On my spare time, I enjoy going to the beach, hanging out with friends, catching up with my family and friends back home and trying to travel around as much as I can. There are so many great attractions that surround the Newcastle and Hunter area. For instance, last weekend, I fed and swam with stingrays! How cool is that? I have also been able to try some of the great wine selections offered in the Hunter Valley, so if you are a wine-o, you will love it here!
Taija: My favourite thing to do in my free time is go to the beach, mainly because it is free. In July I went to Cairns with some of the girls I met in the program, and it was an amazing trip. I went skydiving, and scuba-dived the Great Barrier Reef and saw a huge turtle, and just lay in the sun and relaxed. I also took the train to Sydney a few times this year to do some sightseeing, and after exams I’ll be headed to the Blue Mountains. I think it is very important to reward yourself after a very difficult and stressful time, (for example, your final exams)! Other than that, I basically do what I’d do at home: I go to movies, go bowling, go shopping, go for walks, go explore and experience new restaurants. Although free time is minimal as a law student, it is important to isolate time for yourself, even if it is to just get a pedicure.
Meena: In my free time I have gotten involved with the Law School Society at Newcastle. I also try and attend every event that the law school puts on (which is a ton!) and this helps in making friends. The beaches are great here and Australia is so big that travel is a must! During the winter break in July, we ended up doing a road trip up to Cairns, which was great! Did some skydiving, rafting, saw the Great Barrier Reef and relaxed a bit.
What do you think of OzTREKK’s services, and how did you hear about us?
Amber: Without the help of the representatives at OzTREKK, this transition would have been impossible. Shannon and Sarah provided heaps of information and resources every step of the way, answered all my questions on a timely basis, and assisted me with any documents that I needed UoN to fill out. Seriously, OzTREKK is an amazing organization and any person who is considering studying in Australia should absolutely go through them. I found OzTREKK through a Google search and was so grateful that they do the research for you. I found it to be a one-stop shop!
Taija: OzTREKK was amazing, I cannot say enough good things about the service they provide for students wanting to go to Australia for law school. Shannon was my main admissions officer until she went on maternity leave, and then Sarah helped us along the last couple months. OzTREKK handled everything. No matter what question I had, they had an answer for me. They helped with the application process and visa information, they sent links for accommodation—basically anything you can possibly think of, they have an answer for you. I heard about OzTREKK via the internet by Googling “Australian Law Schools.” I am so happy that I clicked on that link, because they helped get me where I am today.
Meena: I came across OzTREKK by a simple Google search. I found them to be super helpful, especially when it came to actually applying. They take care of everything for you so you are not constantly worrying about what needs to get done. They even set you up with other students heading over to the same uni as you, and provide great info about living arrangements, packing ideas, health care, and banking.
Way to go, ladies! All of us at OzTREKK are proud of you!
About the Juris Doctor & Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice
Program: Juris Doctor & Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice
Location: Newcastle (Callaghan)
Duration: 3 years
Semester intakes: February and June
Application deadline: There is no official application deadline; however, it is recommended that students apply at least three months prior to the program’s start date.
Key features of the program
1. Students will eligible to practice law in Australia upon completion of the program.
2. Students will be able to get in-depth, hands-on experience participating in customized Legal Clinics exploring the following areas:
- Consumer credit
- Criminal law
- Natural resources law
- Public interest law
- Refugee/migration law
3. Students will study in a tight-knit, interactive learning community with highly qualified academic staff dedicated to their success.