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Melbourne University Law School
Melbourne Law School Building
Established 1857
Type Public
Dean James Hathaway
Students 3500
Location Carlton, Victoria, Australia
Campus Urban
Affiliations University of Melbourne

Melbourne Law School - the Faculty of Law at the University of Melbourne - is one of Australia's oldest law schools. It retains a reputation for high quality teaching and research, with approximately 3500 undergraduate and postgraduate students, and a number of Australia's leading legal minds. It is widely regarded as being one of Australia's top law schools, with stringent entry requirements.



The teaching of law at the University of Melbourne began in 1857, when Richard Clarke Sewell was appointed Reader in Law. This was in response to demand from young men wanting to practice law in the colonies, but wanting to stay in Australia to learn. This led to the first degree in law being made available in 1860, and the founding, in 1873, of the Faculty of Law.

The school continued to grow through out the 19th and 20th century, and underwent its first major transformation with the appointment of Sir Zelman Cowen as Dean in 1951. Sir Zelman shaped the law school after the United States model, reforming 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.

Recent developments in the Law School have seen a shift in emphasis towards postgraduate teaching, which culminated in the 'Melbourne Model', introduced in 2008. Under the Model, the study of law is available to postgraduates only, as part of the 'Juris Doctor' program.


The Faculty of Law is home to some key research institutes and centres, including:


The University of Melbourne attracts many prominent legal academics, including the following notable members of staff:

  • Professor Michael Bryan, equity and restitution scholar
  • Professor Andrew Christie, intellectual property expert
  • Professor Harold Luntz, professorial fellow and expert in tort law
  • Professor Jenny Morgan, feminist legal academic
  • Professor Ian Ramsay, expert in corporate law and corporate governance
  • Professor Cheryl Saunders AO, constitutional lawyer
  • Associate Professor Manfred Ellinghaus, contract law scholar

Notable alumni

Some famous graduates of the Law School are:


The following publications are produced by students at the Law School:


  • Law Faculty website
  • Campbell, Ruth. 1977. 'A History of the Melbourne Law School, 1857 to 1973', Faculty of Law, Parkville. ISBN 0-909454-43-4.



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