Published: 18 December 2020
Congratulations on reaching the conclusion of this uniquely challenging year. I commend you for your perseverance and dedication to your studies. I also thank you for your patience and understanding as the Faculty has adapted its teaching and assessment to the necessities of the pandemic restrictions.
It has been especially impressive to see how many student activities were maintained over the year – including the Law Society’s competition program and publications, the production of the UNSW Law Journal, and the filming of the UNSW Law Revue, plus so much more.
In 2021, the Faculty will mark its 50th anniversary and we look forward to welcoming back those of you who are able to return to campus to participate fully in the celebrations. Our ambition is to make this a really memorable year to be a law student at UNSW – when we honour the many achievements of the past but look forward as a community to new and exciting opportunities.
This is reflected in a few changes coming to UNSW Law that I am pleased to tell you about. The most noticeable will be a change to become the Faculty of Law and Justice. This new name makes explicit the Faculty’s distinctive commitment. As our founding Dean, Hal Wootten, said, in words that are prominent in the Law Building foyer: ‘A Law School should have and communicate to its students a keen concern for those on whom the law bears harshly.’ More recently, our motto has been that the Faculty is ‘where law meets justice’. In 2021, we fully embrace this defining part of our identity in our new name.
The name is also appropriate in light of another change. In January, the Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice will join the Faculty’s other programs – and criminology academics are moving from the School of Social Sciences to work alongside colleagues in Law. The Faculty’s new name reflects this broader focus.
We look forward to welcoming BCCJ students to the Faculty and to the contributions and diversity they will surely bring to our community. It is important to stress that the BCCJ has always been a shared program with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and will remain so (noting the change of FASS to the Faculty of Arts, Architecture and Design). Students enrolled in the criminology program will receive a separate communication about this development.
The final change of which to advise you is the splitting of the Faculty’s single School of Law and the organisation of its academic staff into three new schools:
School of Private and Commercial Law
School of Global and Public Law
School of Law, Society and Criminology
The main benefits of the new internal structure of the Faculty are better support and development of staff, and increased profile of academic expertise to external stakeholders. The only students who are directly affected by this change are higher research degree candidates for PhD or LLM by thesis. For all other students, there is no impact on the way your LLB, JD, PLT or LLM coursework program is structured and delivered; you remain students of the Faculty, not any specific School.
As students are aware, these and many other changes across UNSW have been the consequence of a major restructure undertaken to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on the higher education sector. Workplace change is an undeniably difficult experience – and sadly there have been some departures from the ranks of our academic and professional colleagues. But I assure students that the need for these has been minimised and that the Faculty heads into the New Year in a strong position, very well-placed to continue to provide the full student experience that you know and value.
I end this message by thanking you again for your efforts and participation over this hard year. For those of you who have been separated from your families, I hope that you are able to spend time with them over the Summer break. If this is still not possible for you, then please reach out to friends over the weeks ahead and find time to relax and enjoy the holiday with them.
Wishing you all a safe and restorative holiday and the very best for the New Year,