When we’re given a law assignment, our typical response is to reach for legislation, case law, journal articles and textbooks, but the research needn’t stop there.
Take a look at some of these interesting legal resources to help your assignment stand out from the crowd, and have your marker thinking to themselves, “That’s really interesting!” and “I didn’t know that!” as they write a giant ‘HD’ on your feedback form…
Community Legal Education And Reform (CLEAR) Database
Community legal centres play a valuable role in helping disadvantaged members of the community to access legal advice, but CLCs also conduct research and campaign for law reform. The National Association of Community Legal Centres’ CLEAR database allows you to search reports compiled by CLCs on a broad range of legal areas. This can be a great place to find real-world examples of the impacts of a law.
Opinions on High
This new blog from Melbourne Law School is a great resource for constitutional law students. Opinions on High provides commentary on decisions from the High Court of Australia, and also offers background on cases soon to be heard by the court, which could be useful to flag in your assignment as potential future developments in a particular legal area.
There are even interviews with former High Court Justices – the interview with former HCA Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason will definitely add insight to any essay about the Tasmanian Dam case.
You Be the Judge
Victoria’s Sentencing Advisory Council’s You be the Judge exercise is an interesting class activity to add to presentations for criminal law and criminal procedure subjects. It provides several different scenarios based on real-life cases (culpable driving causing death, assault, drug trafficking, and burglary) and asks you to pass a sentence, which you then get to compare to the sentence actually handed down by the court.
Legal History Resources
If you have a legal history assignment or you’re writing about the development of a law or legal concept, check out the Australasian Colonial Legal History Library on AustLII, which provides links to very early court cases, law reports and statutes from Australia and New Zealand.
Or take a look at Old Bailey Online for papers from criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court between 1674 and 1913. The site contains records for more than 197,000 trials!
If you’re doing PLT, Queensland Law Society’s Ethics Centre answers FAQs and provides additional materials on key legal ethics issues.
Judicial College of Victoria
The JCV website is a resource for Victorian judges and magistrates that provides guidance on topics such as civil and criminal procedure. These insights into how matters play out in a courtroom can help to add an extra level of analysis to your assignment. The flowcharts in the Uniform Evidence Resources are particularly awesome for class presentation handouts, or for helping you to work out how to structure your assignments and notes.
It’s no secret that we love a good law blog (or blawg) for procrastination from study, but there are plenty of academic law blogs that offer brilliant commentary on almost any area of law you can think of. Many of these are written by barristers, academics and lawyers, and offer some great real-world examples and alternative viewpoints that can be discussed in your assignments. To get started, check out Amicae Curiae’s impressively long list of Australian Law Blogs.
The Legal Opinions website includes advice documents prepared by Australia’s Attorneys-General and Solicitors-General between Federation and 1945.
The authors of some of these opinions even went on to become High Court Justices, and their pre-HCA opinions can provide additional points for an analysis of their subsequent High Court judgments.
Keep an eye on news websites for stories about recent legal disputes. These examples can add interest to your assignments and help to illustrate how a centuries-old legal principle still has relevance.
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