Legal Careers in Academia

Qualities of an Academic

  • Enjoy writing (or at the very least, don’t completely hate it)
  • Self motivated and directed (left to own devices for long-ish periods of time before people will notice you haven’t progressed, so important to have good self-discipline)
  • Good research skills

Can be isolating at times-long periods of research, but there are still networks to keep involved and active.

Academics nowadays almost always have PhD’s-didn’t use to be the case but now they are almost compulsory. Firms are now starting to hire PhD students-getting better placements in the profession on the strength of the PhD, rather than as entry level graduate with LLB.

Large range of flexibility with the PhD-can be 3-4 years. Stop/starting for work etc is ok-communicate with the law school about the need to extend/delay etc and its very often ok. They can also talk to a future employer (firm) about conducting clerkship/graduate position whilst doing a PhD and negotiate days to work etc.

Application requirements for PhD students typically GPA of 5.5-but extremely flexible, can consider publications, strong essays from earlier years. Practicing and then returning to uni as PhD student also ok-but that practical experience is not really the focus→more on research and writing skills.
To boost entry into PhD programs, academia in general, try and publish work soon-even as LLB student, take on a range of research assistant roles and generally work on your profile-writing, research, analysis, comprehension.

As you study, keep in mind potential interest areas. Where issues arise in lectures that you are consistently curious about-that lecturers etc can give you no conclusive/satisfactory answer, flag them as potential research topics, or areas of interest to develop further.

General emphasis was:

  • PhD is very flexible, very useful professionally
  • Academia is great area to promote issues and through that process, attempt to really change them.
  • More than writing in an office-lots of engagement with interest groups, the profession generally, practice areas specifically, conferences, NGO's etc

Heather Douglas was really supportive about going to go see her if anyone has PhD/pathway questions…