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Studying Law in Regional Australia


Hi there! A moment please, while I put down my Akubra and corn husk. There, that’s better. What were we going to talk about? Oh, that’s right. What it’s like to study law in regional Australia. On with the show…

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Where I study, at Southern Cross University in Lismore NSW, you’ll find most lecturers and academics know who you are, for better or worse. They become your guides not only in the lecture theatre, but outside of it too. They have fewer students to deal with, and so more time to spend with those they do have. Students, too, will all know each other.

Nimbin and Byron Bay are a Textbook Catapult Away

While I have never been to Nimbin, and frequent Byron Bay very rarely, the effects of a relaxed and liberal lifestyle influence what we learn. For example, Environmental Law is compulsory and every unit is embedded with cultural literacy and a good ol’ critique of the status quo. I have only had one strictly black-letter tutor. Also, my university doesn’t have the usual research centres in constitutional law, public law or policy, but we do have an Earth Laws Network, conducting research into Earth Jurisprudence and Wild Law.

Of course, we still learn all the usual stuff; contracts, corps, taxation, finance and consumer law are all there. But we are provided with a broader perspective, which I think city-folk miss out on. We’re not prepared necessarily for commercial practice, but instead for anything.

Koalas Supervise Our Exams

Well, not strictly. But you do find a mother koala will appear, with her baby on her back (holding on for dear life), just before you walk into your exam. I imagine they are wishing us good luck, or want legal advice (which I have told them I’m not permitted to give).

The Lismore campus is surrounded by trees in every direction, and every Spring the campus smells beautiful. The atmosphere is one not only free of distractions, but conducive to studying.

Graduate Prospects

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, however. We don’t get visits from top-tier firms, and you might find many students don’t know the names of these firms. Although if you’re determined enough to work there when you graduate, you just might. But the location is certainly no help, unfortunately.

If you want to work in a larger commercial firm (20+ partners), you’re going to have to move. If you like family law, criminal law, or ambulance-chasing, then you’re in luck!

Lismore is a growing regional centre, and in the next decade I can imagine many more commercial law positions becoming available. But at the moment, that’s not the case.

Everything Else

Consider anything not covered as being the same as in the city. We have murderous magpies, as well as all the necessary retail outlets for your coffee, liquor and stationery needs (but not the exorbitant amount a Westfield affords). Public transport options are minimal but with such a great environment, why not walk?

Because there’s snakes, spiders, lizards and floods. That’s why.

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