With several careers under his belt before arriving at RMIT, David Goodwin knows a little about the many directions a law degree can take you.
David Goodwin talks about RMIT's Juris Doctor program.
Can you tell us about your corporate career?
It's said the graduates of today will experience multiple careers in their working lives. That's reassuring, because I have had about seven so far, and all of them have been enabled by the study of law.
I was just 21 when I completed my Bachelor of Laws and caught a lucky break, securing a graduate role with BHP in Melbourne. I developed expertise in maritime and trade law and spent time in BHP's corporate legal department, then became Legal Manager for BHP Steel. Altogether, I was at BHP for more than a decade.
I also spent five years with the shipping company Australian National Line, initially as Legal Manager. Then I led a Corporate Planning department and ended up living in Auckland as General Manager New Zealand, running logistics businesses.
When BHP decided to demerge and spin out its steel businesses as two separate publicly-listed companies - OneSteel (now Arrium) and BlueScope Steel - I had the opportunity to work on both transactions and then spent five years as Executive Vice President Corporate Affairs for BlueScope. In 2005 I was offered a job in Singapore as Head of Corporate Affairs for the world's fifth biggest container shipping company, Neptune Orient Lines.
Why and how did you become a barrister?
Advocacy has always interested me, and was a challenge I wanted to tackle. In early 2010 our family decided it was time to leave Singapore and settle back in Melbourne.
I completed the Victorian Bar's Readers Course that year, hung out my shingle and developed a practice focused around commercial law and alternative dispute resolution. All barristers are sole practitioners - the independence is wonderful.
How did you find your way to an academic career at RMIT?
I completed a Master of Business at RMIT in the 1990s, so I am an alumnus and I believe in giving back. I've been an adjunct lecturer here at various times, teaching into MBA programs, and started teaching Law of Torts in the Juris Doctor in 2011.
I relish helping to launch new legal careers, and I believe we are building a truly exceptional and distinctive law school here. It’s exciting to be part of making that happen.
My research interests reflect my professional background - alternative dispute resolution, maritime law, corporate social responsibility, economic torts and the scholarship of learning and teaching.
Is there a big difference between working as a legal practitioner and teaching in the Graduate School of Business and Law?
There’s a tremendous amount of crossover. For many of us in the law faculty of RMIT, our teaching is informed by our practical experience in the real world of law.
Many of the examples we use are grounded in situations we have faced personally. Ours is a very practical, applied law program, connected to professional practice.
How can students keep abreast of the ways the law is changing and anticipate how this will affect them?
The practice of law is changing rapidly. Many of our Juris Doctor students want to work as solicitors, or are planning a future career at the Bar, but technological innovation is creating new entrepreneurial options, the community legal sector has a strong appetite for new graduates and opportunities exist internationally as well as across Australia.
What are the benefits of studying an RMIT Juris Doctor?
It's important to say that choosing to study law is about more than career opportunities. In studying law, we come to an understanding of the instruments of power in our society and some of the defects and inadequacies of existing systems of justice.
Many students want this understanding so they can develop the skill set to truly make a difference, contributing to law reforms and policy changes.
Our graduates work in law firms, in corporations, in government departments, within the community sector and some are self-employed. In whatever career they choose, the knowledge, capabilities and applied experience attained through the Juris Doctor provide a decisive edge.
Be true to you: Study the Juris Doctor in 2016. Applications are now open.
Story: Grace Taylor