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Law schools head in new direction


Cite as: (2007) 81(12) LIJ, p. 15

The University of Melbourne and Australian Catholic University (ACU) have announced new law faculty heads in the lead-up to the 2008 school year.

International law expert Professor James Hathaway will begin his appointment as Melbourne Law School dean in January.

In February, Dr Spencer Zifcak will take up the ACU’s position as inaugural Allan Myers chair of law, as well as becoming the Institute of Legal Studies director.

Prof Hathaway, formerly a University of Michigan Law School professor, is best known for his work in international refugee law.

The Canadian legal educator was Osgoode Hall Law School’s associate dean and clinical education director.

He was senior visiting research associate at Oxford University’s refugee studies program and the president of Spain’s Cuenca Colloquium on International Refugee Law.

Prof Hathaway’s appointment comes at a critical time in Melbourne University’s Law School history.

The school will adopt the Melbourne Model next year, when 96 undergraduate courses will be replaced by six new generation degrees.

The change will mean professional programs such as law and medicine will become available only as postgraduate programs.

Prof Hathaway said the model would help Melbourne law students compete with the best law graduates in the world.

“With more mature and experienced students in the classroom, we will not just teach law, we will challenge our students to innovate, to devise solutions to tough social and economic problems, and to be leaders in legal practice and public service,” he said.

ACU national vice-chancellor Professor Peter Sheehan welcomed Dr Zifcak’s appointment.

Prof Sheehan said Dr Zifcak, a former La Trobe University School of Law associate professor, would work to develop ACU’s specialist inter-disciplinary postgraduate programs and research in legal studies.

Eminent Melbourne barrister Allan Myers QC will fund Dr Zifcak’s appointment as the Allan Myers chair of law for five years.

Dr Zifcak will be based at ACU’s Melbourne campus where he will oversee the university’s Institute of Legal Studies across its six campuses.

Dr Zifcak has a background in constitutional, international and human rights law.

He recently completed a visiting fellowship at Trinity College, Dublin.


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