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03 November 2021

Where can an LLM take you?

Published on 03 November 2021

Whether you’re hoping to deepen your practise area knowledge or broaden your horizons to a new field of law, a College of Law LLM (Applied Law) can provide the structure, professional support, and practical learning you need. In this special Insights feature, we’re looking at the journey of a few of our remarkable LLM graduates, how they struck that tricky balance between work, study, and family/personal pursuits, and how their Master of Laws helped elevate their career. 

Meet Kiarah Grace Kelly, Collaborative Family Lawyer at the Brisbane Family Law Centre

At eleven years old, Kiarah Grace Kelly decided she might like to be a lawyer.

“I wish that I could tell you that there was a really noble reason behind my decision, but I was watching that iconic cross-examination scene in that iconic movie featuring the very blonde, very pink lawyer, Elle Woods, and I just fell in love,” admitted Kiarah. “Really though, what the law meant to me was that I could change my story, improve my situation, and have a fine-tuned craft - all while helping people in need.”

As with any endeavour, undertaking postgraduate study requires serious and considered commitment.

“I find that making study a non-negotiable part of my day really helps. It’s made studying my LLM, working, and being with my loved ones really manageable.”

Due to the practical nature of her College of Law LLM, she saw the fruits of her further study fairly swiftly.

“I am getting such wonderful feedback about how my LLM has improved my skills from my employer,” said Kiarah. “It is so wonderful to be engaged and really love what you're learning, and higher education provides exactly that. It's so thrilling to feel like you have an edge, and you know the why behind what you do.”


Meet Mark Leishman, Special Counsel at Leishman Legal

Mark first studied family law at the Australian National University as a subject of his LLB in the 1990s. As his legal career took him in a different direction, he committed to a four year plan to move into family law, undertaking an LLM (Applied Law) majoring in Family Law, while working full time as a partner in another field.

“When I made the plan to enter family law, I wanted to ensure I was in the best position I could be in to provide advice to clients. Rather than updating myself “on-the-job”, I undertook the Masters in advance of commencing practice in that field.” 

“I chose the College of Law as its learning environment suited me well. The College of Law provided a good balance of committed time for tutorials, flexible time for study (along with good guidance) and programmed events (papers, workshops, etc.) that I could lock into my schedule well in advance.”

His diligence saw him awarded the Mills Oakley – Sandra Paul Memorial Best Graduating Student – Family Law prize. 

Family law is a particularly challenging area of legal practice and knowing the calibre of some of the other graduates, it’s a privilege and an honour to be recognised. It’s certainly not something I was expecting!”


Meet Callum Lee, Solicitor at Pippa Colman & Associates Law Practice Pty Ltd

Callum Lee saw the College of Law’s LLM as an opportunity to set himself apart in a crowded market.

“Undertaking higher studies has always been something I wanted to do. I have a particular passion in Wills and Estates work and my second degree in financial planning marries up well with that,” he explained.”

Studying Wills & Estates subjects proved to be a perfect marriage with his family law practice.

“As family lawyers, a significant part of what we do involves assisting clients to understand how family law issues might impact their estate planning and succession planning, in a business context. While we do not necessarily practice in complex Will and Estates, we do routinely assist clients to understand how a relationship breakdown can impact their Will, Enduring Power of Attorney or Advance Health Directive, and other associated estate planning documents.”

He heard about the College of Law’s LLM through the grapevine.

“Two of my close friends and colleagues are going through the LLM program in family law and they encouraged me to undertake the training as well,” said Callum. “The interactions are simple and the content is easy to follow. The assignments are challenging, without being overbearing. I find I can easily manage the workload in my usual spare hours, whilst still maintaining a full time workload.”


Clyde & Co Senior Associate Dominique Mayo made a very conscious decision to undertake a practical Masters program that would supplement and complement her role as a commercial litigator in private practice. 

“I made a very conscious decision to undertake a practical Masters program that would supplement and complement my role as a commercial litigator in private practice, and whilst the Commercial Litigation Masters program is highly academic, its point of distinction is its uniquely practical focus.”

As a Senior Associate at Clyde & Co, Dominique works across a multi-national team on a highly complex matter with global implications, as a litigation specialist.

“Certainly, the knowledge and skills I have accrued from the Managing Complex Litigation module are being put to good use in my current role.”

Dominique also found the self-reflection activities in each of the modules to be highly valuable.

“Undertaking the various learning and assessment activities in the Capstone Project (Commercial Litigation) module caused me to consider and analyse my practice as a commercial litigator, specifically in respect of the provisioning of advice to clients in a litigious matter” said Dominique.


Meet Josephine Byrnes-Luna, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner at Achieving Solutions Counselling & Mediation

Josephine has been a nationally accredited mediator for over five years, which she found contributed naturally to her counselling practice, Achieving Solutions Counselling & Mediation. 

As a Graduate Diploma student of The College of Law’s Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) program, Josephine found the practical components of her FDR studies vital to the success of FDR’s approach.

“Here, I was able to put much of the theory I had learned, my experience in the field, and therapeutic processes into actual practice,” said Josephine.

“My studies with the College of Law also provided me further insight into where family law is now looking to give some children a voice, particularly with regard to parenting plans,” said Josephine. 

“With this, I am now able to offer family dispute resolution as part of my evolving practice and as a complete independent FDR practitioner within the legal industry.”

“With my years of therapeutic experience, collaborative practice training in the family law jurisdiction and now my studies with the College of Law, I am in a perhaps unique position to offer a holistic approach to FDR. I am able to bring so many aspects of the process of what I see as necessary for successful dispute resolution.”

Considering an LLM (Applied Law) with the College of Law? Explore the range of specialisations available, or schedule a one-on-one chat to learn more.