The La Trobe Law School has a proud tradition of high impact socio-legal or “law and society” research, with significant practical application. Law and society research aims to understand legal concepts, institutions and practices in their social, historical, cultural, political and economic contexts.

In recent years, the Law School has continued to build on its tradition of law and society research, but has branched out into some new and exciting areas of legal scholarship. Law School researchers are tackling some of the most challenging issues of the 21st century, including:

  • the relationship between law and technology
  • the regulation of health technologies and the human body
  • the relationship between the state and its citizens.

Staff within the School partner with a range of industry and government bodies, including the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, and the Donor Tissue Bank of Victoria. Researchers have influenced law reform in Australia and overseas, participated in test case litigation, served as expert witnesses in superior court cases, and engage regularly with the media.

Hear Justice Kirby discuss the history of la Trobe Law School’s socio-legal identity and its research impact:

The Law School’s key research strengths are law and technology, health law, and public law, with a particular focus on research that adopts a law and society framework.

Law and technology

The cyberlaw, privacy and technology team investigates policy and regulatory options to protect fundamental rights and ensure national security in a context where data technology is changing the paradigm. The team includes leaders of the Data to Decisions Co-operative Research Centre which is developing data technology to support national security and law enforcement in Australia.

Topics include:

  • cybercriminal activities, such as identity-theft or fraud
  • big data
  • national security law
  • consumer rights on the internet
  • the semantic web.

Cyberlaw scholars have received funding from AusIndustry (via the Co-operative Research Centre program), Horizon 2020 (the European Commission).

Industry partners include:

  • the Office of the Commissioner of Privacy and Data Protection (Victoria)
  • the federal Attorney-General’s Department
  • Boeing (USA)
  • British Telecomm
  • Cloud Security Alliance (UK)
  • the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

International Law

Our International Legal Studies Research Group (ILSRG) supports research that examines and theorizes international and transnational legal engagement and interactions; the architecture, jurisprudence and practice of international laws.

Our members also analyse the way international laws operate in society and how they are shaped by certain social, historical, cultural, political and economic contexts. Learn more about our International Law research.

Health Law

This research strength examines law’s relationship with health, both ‘on the books’ and in practice. It adopts a law and society approach to health law, working to understand how law impacts upon ethical, social, political and equity issues at individual and population levels.

Topics include:

  • health governance
  • gender and sexuality
  • reproduction, including assisted reproduction
  • public health
  • mental health and disability
  • regulation of the human body
  • the NDIS.

Industry partners include the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, and the Donor Tissue Bank of Victoria.

Health Law scholars have received funding from:

  • the ARC (Future Fellowship and Discovery Project schemes)
  • Wellcome Trust (UK)
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority
  • and the Victoria Law Foundation.

You can explore the work of our Centre for Health, Law and Society here

Public Law

Our public team provide thought leadership on Australian public administration and governance. The Public Law research strength explores the way in which the three branches of government – the legislature, the executive and the courts – are governed.

Topics include:

  • the law of interpretation, which governs the judicial interpretation of legislation
  • the relationship between the state and its citizens
  • and the relationship between the institutions of the state.