Q&A with students at the University of Sydney

On 24 September 2020, ALRC Principal Legal Officer Micheil Paton and Senior Legal Officer Sarah Fulton answered questions from students in a class on Law Reform, at the request of Professor Simon Rice OAM, the Kim Santow Chair of Law and Social Justice at the University of Sydney Law School. The students had read a number of probing articles relating to the various law reform agencies and processes in Australia and overseas, and were keen to ask a range of questions relating to the approach and experience of the ALRC.

Topics of interest included:

  • use of data and empirical research;
  • the ALRC’s relationship with government, including financial dependence and intellectual independence;
  • hearing from diverse and marginalised voices on inquiry topics;
  • the value of, and challenges in managing, large volumes of non-expert public input;
  • the unique contribution of dedicated law reform agencies amongst a ‘crowded field’ of bodies engaging with legal policy.

The students’ keen engagement demonstrated a deep interest in how the law works in practice, and how a range of societal perspectives can be reflected in recommendations for change. There were also personal questions relating to the nature and experience of law reform work that suggested students would consider career options beyond pure legal practice. It was exciting to see how the University of Sydney is encouraging students to engage critically with broader questions of how and why law reform should be conducted.