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Early Optimism? First-Year Law Students' Work Expectations and Aspirations

Legal Education Review, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2010

Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 64

10 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2012  

Melissa Castan

Monash University - Faculty of Law

Jeannie Marie Paterson

Melbourne Law School

Paul Richardson

Monash University - Faculty of Education

Helen Watt

Monash University - Faculty of Education

Maryanne Dever

Newcastle University (UK)

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

Despite a burgeoning of law schools in Australia in the last 15 years, there has been very little exploration of the expectations and aspirations of students commencing a law degree in Australia. By contrast, a number of studies on features of professional life for practising lawyers are emerging. In particular, recent studies have shown high levels of stress, anxiety and depression among practising lawyers. In addition, there is evidence of high levels of attrition of women from private legal practice in the first few years following admission and a significant under-representation of women in the senior levels of the profession. Universities and their law schools have not traditionally focused on preparing students for the realities of the legal workplace, concentrating instead on technical legal knowledge and practical legal skills. We recently set out to ask commencing (that is, newly enrolled) students in their first few weeks of study what they thought legal practice would be like, and what sort of career and lifestyle they would have. In this paper, we set out the context for the 2009 study into first-year students’ career expectations and analyse some of the key findings.

Keywords: law school, students, lawyers, women, admission, universities, practical legal skills, first-year, career, undergraduate

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K40, I20

Suggested Citation

Castan, Melissa and Paterson, Jeannie Marie and Richardson, Paul and Watt, Helen and Dever, Maryanne, Early Optimism? First-Year Law Students' Work Expectations and Aspirations (2010). Legal Education Review, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2010; Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 64. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2021571

Melissa Castan (Contact Author)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

Jeannie Marie Paterson

Melbourne Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

Paul Richardson

Monash University - Faculty of Education ( email )

Australia

Helen Watt

Monash University - Faculty of Education ( email )

Australia

Maryanne Dever

Newcastle University (UK) ( email )

5 Barrack Road
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, NE1 7RU
United Kingdom

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