Navigating the modern regulatory maze

Legislation and statutes are becoming an increasingly important part of our legal system, challenging the central role once held by common law.

Senior lecturer in Law, Jeffrey BarnesIn an initiative believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, La Trobe University Law School has launched a compulsory new core subject on Statutory Interpretation.

Subject co-ordinator and former legislative drafter, Mr Jeffrey Barnes, says law students ‘desperately need a subject devoted entirely to this critical but often neglected area of professional practice’.

 ‘Judges and academics for some time now have recognised that legislation is the cornerstone of the legal system. The common law now circles in the orbit of statute.

‘But counsel and practitioners often struggle with complex legislation, so we thought it time to make a stand-alone statutory interpretation subject a compulsory component of our law program,’ he says.

Mr Barnes says that irrespective of which area of the law graduates eventually choose for their careers, the new course will equip them with the necessary skills to ‘navigate the modern regulatory maze’.

To achieve this, teaching is very hands-on with weekly seminars devoted to case analysis, problem solving, and reflection on the role of the legal interpreter.

‘Students will hand in regular practical exercises before completing a major piece of work on a large and complex Act.  We have trialled this method in other core subjects, and it produces fantastic results,’ he says.

La Trobe Law School Head, Professor Paula Baron, says the pioneering program has received positive feedback from the profession and is being keenly watched both in Australia and overseas.

‘It is expected to have a real impact on the teaching and practice of law in Australian Law Schools in the future.’


Jeffrey Barnes
La Trobe Law School
T +61 3 9479 1195 | E

Ernest Raetz
Media and Communications
T +61 3 9479 2315 | E