Obiter Dicta

December 2022

Message from the Dean

Professor Natalie Skead

In the first semester without significant pandemic-related disruption since the start of 2020, it was wonderful to have so many of our students back on campus, loitering in the Law Courtyard, filling the Beasley Law Library, and peppering Oak Lawn. This year, we had our largest Juris Doctor graduating cohort since the degree replaced the Bachelor of Laws in 2013. Despite this, our recent graduate employment results indicate that over 97% of our Class of 2022 have secured employment for 2023. This excellent result is a testament to the very high quality of our students, the Juris Doctor program, and, of course, our academics.

The outstanding teaching in the UWA Law School was recognised at the 2022 Australian Legal Education Awards in July, with our academics taking out three of the six national law teaching awards. Most notably Penny Carruthers received the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award for her sustained contribution to, and leadership in, legal education, not just at UWA but nationally, and Kate Offer received the overall Excellence in Teaching Award.

Our academics have also enjoyed national research success, with our public law team comprising Murray Wesson, Sarah Murray, Tamara Tulich, and Jacinta Dharmananda recently receiving federal funding to lead a national project digitising the Australian Constitution. In addition, Senior Lecturer Lauren Butterly received the PhD Award at the Australian Legal Research Award Ceremony in July 2022.

In the second half of the year, we continued our extensive engagement with the profession and broader community through an array of presentations, seminars and conferences, including public lectures by Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and High Court of Australia Justice James Edelman, as well as events on causation, unjust enrichment, artificial intelligence, remedies, and modern slavery.

As the year draws to a close, I wish the UWA Law School community a safe, happy, and restful festive season. I look forward to connecting with you again in 2023.


National Awards

We are delighted to report that UWA Law School did exceptionally well at the 2022 CALD Australian Legal Education Awards (ALEA) and Australian Legal Research Awards (ALRA). Four UWA Law School academics received awards:
  • Excellence in Teaching – Senior Lecturer Kate Offer
  • Excellence in Teaching (Sessional) – Liz Mansfield
  • Outstanding Career Achievement Award – Senior Lecturer Penny Carruthers
  • PhD Research Award – Senior Lecturer Lauren Butterly

These awards are drawn from 39 law schools across the country. CALD (Council of Australian Law Deans) is an association consisting of the Deans of all the law schools in Australia. In addition to our success at the CALD Awards, in November Associate Professor Joe Clare was awarded the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology’s Award for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching for 2022. 


Gavel and trophy on desk

Menon CJ event

Singapore Chief Justice address on transnational commerce

On Wednesday 27 July 2022, UWA Law School and the Supreme Court of Western Australia were honoured to jointly host an address by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Singapore, at the WA Supreme Court. The topic of the Chief Justice’s address was 'The Law of Commerce in the 21st Century: Transnational Commercial Justice Amidst the Wax and Wane of Globalisation.' A copy of the Chief Justice’s address is available on the Law School website under ‘Past Events’.


Artificial Intelligence discussed at the inaugural French Dialogues

UWA Law School and the UWA Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab were excited to hold the inaugural French Dialogues on Thursday 6 October 2022 in the Perth Library.  The French Dialogues is a biannual event consisting of a cross disciplinary discussion by a panel of experts on a significant contemporary issue. The 2022 Dialogues addressed the topic 'The Future of Artificial Intelligence and Humans: Should We Unplug the Machines?' The 2022 panel consisted of experts from law (UWA Law School Associate Professor Julia Powles), computer science (Lachlan McCalman, Chief Practitioner at the Gradient Institute, Canberra), business (Pia Andrews, Strategic Advisor–Public Sector, Amazon Web Services) and the humanities (UWA Conservatorium of Music Associate Professor Sarah Collins). The panel discussion was facilitated by James Purtill, reporter at the ABC. The French Dialogues honours the Hon. Robert French AC, a UWA Law School alumnus (LLB ’71), former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and current Chancellor of UWA.


French Dialogues

Edelman address 2022

High Court Justice James Edelman Address on the Constitution

We were delighted to host a public address on campus by the Honourable Justice James Edelman (LLB ’97), Justice of the High Court of Australia, on Wednesday 26 October 2022. Justice Edelman spoke on the topic ‘Aliens, Citizens, and Indigenous Australians’. The speech addressed s 51(xix) of the Constitution and concepts of citizens, aliens and equality. UWA Law School Indigenous scholar Lecturer Karinda Burns provided introductory comments to the Judge’s excellent address.


Digitising the Drafting of the Australian Constitution

A UWA Law School led team, Associate Professor Murray Wesson, Professor Sarah Murray, Associate Professor Tamara Tulich and Senior Lecturer Jacinta Dharmananda, has been awarded an ARC LIEF (Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities) grant of over $300,000 for the project ‘Digitising the Drafting of the Australian Constitution’. This is a collaborative project between nine Australian universities and the Quill Project based at Pembroke College, University of Oxford. The project aims to simplify the task of understanding the Australian Constitution and its drafting process by providing an open access, online archive. Applications for ARC LIEF grants are made by universities in all fields across the country and are extremely competitive. This was the only funded LIEF project in Law awarded this year.


Law School Awards Ceremony

Our top JD students from 2021 were recognised for their outstanding academic achievements at our annual Law School Awards Ceremony on Thursday 11 August 2022. The valedictorian address was given by Zam Golestani (JD 2022) (photo), the key note address by Law School alumnus Belinda Teh (LLB 2016), and the staff address by Law School Associate Professor Murray Wesson. The top 15% of the 2021 graduating cohort are recognised on the Dean’s List.  As well as being valedictorian, congratulations to Zam Golestani for being accepted into the LLM program at Cambridge University and being awarded a Cambridge Australia Frank Downing Scholarship. Zam commenced his LLM studies in October.


More Grant Success

Congratulations to Professor Rick Krever who is the UWA member of a team awarded a 2023 ARC Discovery Program Grant for the project ‘Sustainable Fiscal Federalism and Reform of the GST Distribution System’. The project was awarded over $190,000 and aims to develop a reform blueprint for a sustainable and equitable fiscal federalism regime in Australia that best aligns with Australia’s current and long-term fiscal needs. This was one of the few Discovery projects awarded in law. 

New Members Dean's Circle

Since the June Obiter Dicta, we are delighted that we have two new members of the Dean’s Circle: Nicholas Kee (LLB '92) and Daniel White (LLB 2011). Members of the Dean’s Circle can contribute to the Law School through scholarship endowments, teaching spaces, research projects or strategic funding. Learn more about joining the Dean's Circle.

New Law Academics

We were delighted to welcome two new scholars to UWA Law School in July – Senior Lecturer Lauren Butterly and Lecturer Jessica Kerr.

Upcoming Events

Public Seminar - Lobbying Regulation in Australia, Wednesday 14 December 2022

The Electoral Regulation Research Network, UWA Public Policy Institute and UWA Law School are delighted to co-host a public seminar by Fulbright Scholar and Monash University Associate Professor Yee-Fui Ng on Wednesday 14 December 2022 at 5pm at UWA. Associate Professor Ng will present on ‘Lobbying Regulation in Australia: Where We Are Now and Options For Reform’. This seminar is offered in person or online. For more information and to register.

Book Launch – Modern Statutory Interpretation, March 2023

Join us for the Perth book launch of Modern Statutory Interpretation: Framework, Principles and Practice (Cambridge University Press) by Jeffrey Barnes, UWA Law School Senior Lecturer Jacinta Dharmananda and Eamonn Moran in March 2023. The book will be launched by the Honourable Justice Katrina Banks-Smith, Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. More information on the Law School website soon.

John Toohey Oration - Wednesday 6 September 2023

We are delighted that the 2023 John Toohey Oration will be given by the Honourable Virginia Bell AC, former Justice of the High Court of Australia. The John Toohey Oration is a biannual Oration organised by the UWA Law School to honour the career and contribution to public life of a distinguished graduate of UWA Law School, the Honourable John Leslie Toohey. More information and registration details available on the Law School website soon.

Congratulations to our alumni

Alumni appointments to the Bench

Congratulations to the following UWA Law School alumni appointed to the Bench in WA since our June Obiter Dicta:

  • Michael Lundberg (LLB ’94), a former Jones Day partner, was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of WA and is the first Indigenous judge of the Supreme Court of WA.
  • Sam Vandongen SC (LLB ’92), formerly a barrister at Francis Burt Chambers, was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of WA.
  • Linda Black (LLB '94), formerly a barrister at Murray Chambers, was appointed a judge of the District Court.

Alumni appointments to Senior Counsel

We also congratulate four of our alumni who were appointed as Senior Counsel in Western Australia in October:

  • Bettina Mangan (LLB ’83)
  • Fiona Seaward (LLB 2000)
  • Eric Heenan (LLB 2006)
  • Rachael Young (LLB 2007)

Law School Professor appointed High Commissioner

Law School Professor, alumnus, and former federal minister Stephen Smith (LLB '78) was named as Australia’s next High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

2023 WA Law Society President

Congratulations to Ante Golem (LLB 2002) on his election as President of the Law Society of Western Australia for 2023.

More on our students

Pop-up Technology Program

Law students had the opportunity to receive cutting-edge legal technology education and real-life experience thanks to a recent collaboration between UWA Law School, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and legal automation software provider Josef. The 6-week ‘pop-up’ program ran from July to September and taught law students about legal design thinking, project management, and application building. Corrs’ mentors provided real-life problems and helped the students bring ideas to life.

User typing on a keyboard

Claudia Monterosso

Election of the 2022 Blackstone Society President

Congratulations and best wishes to Juris Doctor student Claudia Monterosso on her election as the President of the Blackstone Society for 2023. Many thanks to outgoing President Jihoo Lee for all his hard work.

2022 Sir Harry Gibbs Constitutional Law Moot

Our team of JD students - Jack Doyle, Ellen Tetley and Max Tran - did extremely well to reach the semi-final of the 2022 Sir Harry Gibbs Constitutional Law moot held in Melbourne in October. Many thanks to their coach Associate Professor Murray Wesson for all his assistance.

 JD students - Jack Doyle, Ellen Tetley and Max Tran

2022 Geoff Ajduk Memorial Prize

In November, JD student Chelsea Robinson was awarded the 2022 Geoff Ajduk Memorial Prize by the Magistrate’s Society of Western Australia for her dedication to social justice and community service.

Dean’s Foundation

UWA Law School has launched a new corporate donor program, the Dean’s Foundation. The Dean’s Foundation is a corporate donor program that creates long-term partnerships between your organisation and UWA Law School to ensure our continued success in producing remarkable graduates. Thank you to the leadership and generous support of the founding members of the Foundation - Ashurst and Gilbert + Tobin. For more information, go to the Dean’s Foundation website.


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