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Most of us know something about law, even if we are not yet a student of law. Our previous studies, our experiences, even the television can inform us about the law. Most people would be aware of courts, and judges, of the existence of laws, and the police to enforce them, and the role of Parliament and Government in developing laws.The law affects most of us every day. When you were born, the law required a certificate to be issued. When you were 6, the law required you to go to school.
Throughout your childhood, the law required your parents or guardian to look after you. If you are married, or want to be married, the law requires you to have a certificate. If you have a job, or when you have a job, you must pay taxes. If you enter into a contract with another person and break the promises in it, they can sue you under the law. Most of the time the law is not a problem for you (except when you are studying for a law exam!) … the law easily fits in with the way we go about our everyday lives.
These sorts of laws are contained in a Parliamentary Statute and from the Courts and at times, from international law- and that is what we teach you, and you learn, in law school.
In a LLB – a Bachelor of Laws - you mainly study the Australian legal system, in some subjects focused further on the Victorian legal system. At times you look to international law.In the Australian legal system there are a set of laws:
The legal system operates as a whole, in accordance with fundamental principles and precepts with Parliament, the judiciary and executive to establish and enforce the system of rules.
There are many different areas of law you will study in your law degree. Many of the subjects you study are required for you to be admitted to practice law in Victoria (11 requirements)
As well as these prescribed subjects, there are many other areas of the law – some of which you will have to study, others of which may choose to study. These include, for example, Commercial law, workplace law, misleading conduct, family law, intellectual property law and many others. For an example and outline of the types of subjects you would study in a Bachelor of Laws degree at University, look through the unit guides in the Law section of the Deakin Undergraduate Handbook
A single legal case may very well cross over each of these subjects and give rise to issues from each.
In the Bachelor of Laws degree at an Australian University, you will study a common law legal system
Australia's common law system is a system of law with the feature of the doctrine of precedent – called stare decisis (“to stand by decisions”) or “judge-made” law – derived from the English common law system. The common law can be distinguished from the civil law system – in fact the system in most of the other countries in the world, including continental Europe, some Asian states.
The civil law system sees constitutions or statutes passed by government as authoritative. All laws, both substantive and procedural are contained in a ‘code’.
But: This is just scratching the surface, in a Bachelor of Laws you learn so much more ... in particular the skills of a law graduate
Studying law is a skill. Over the 3, 4 or 5 (or so) years you are in law school, you develop the skill of being a law student. When you graduate, the tools in your armoury mean that you are equipped with the tools of a lawyer, as well as generic skills referred to as ‘graduate attributes’.
These are divided into two areas - knowledge and understanding and skills.
Knowledge and understanding
This text is an edited extract from Claire Macken, The Law Student's Survival Guide: 9 Steps to Law Study Success, Thomsons, 2009 (2nd edition).