BROWNEN EWENS & CHRIS FORDER
Volume 2, Issue 3 (Originally Published 6 August 2012)
By this stage of semester two, Associate Professor Pamela Hanrahan, who teaches Corporations Law as well as Obligations, is known to at least half of the second-year JDs as well as a large number of first-years. She also teaches Financial Services Law in the Melbourne Law Master’s.
After attending Pamela’s classes, students might guess that she is a person of many and diverse interests, and, as De Minimis journalists found, they would be guessing correctly.
Pamela can’t remember a time when she wasn’t interested in the law. Both her parents, as well as a grandfather, were lawyers. Her parents’ efforts to talk her out of doing a law degree were in vain, and she combined her Arts (Hons) with an LLB when she began at Melbourne University. Her favourite subject was Succession, with Equity and Trusts as general favourites.
“I always wanted to be a barrister, but I found while doing my articles at Allens that I really enjoyed commercial law, so I stayed at Allens, off and on, for 15 years,” she explains. “After working in private practice, as a regulator and now as an academic, I can’t imagine any other career than the law. But no-one’s career follows the exact path they think it will, even if you do stay in the one field.”
For Pamela, the best thing about the law is that “every day, there’s something new and interesting to learn. The more you know, the more you learn, because you start to see the connections between different areas of the law. That is endlessly interesting. If there’s a downside, it would be that you have to stay in an office all day and adapt to office culture.”
An avid skier, Pamela is also a keen traveller and a voracious reader. At home, her vast book collection is sorted alphabetically (for fiction), and by the Dewey Decimal System (for non-fiction). She especially loves crime fiction and recommends Peter Temple’s books, including The Broken Shore and the Jack Irish series. Other favourites are Ransom by David Malouf, and Patrick O’Brian’s novels. With her passion for books, she would like to establish a Law and Literature Club.
She also loves travelling, and the more family members who tag along, the merrier. Pamela and her children have also lived overseas, while she worked at Cambridge, and she notes that this experience binds a family closely, because the kids are away from all their usual friends and activities. Another benefit to her six months at Cambridge was that her son learned to ski in the French Alps – though this has not made him an expert on the slopes.
If she could change one thing in today’s world, Pamela would have free Wi-Fi everywhere, thus eliminating the need for telecommunications companies and their consumer contracts.
As her students know, Pamela is a fan of Radio National and its Law Report. Listening to this show “helps everything you learn in the law crystallise, ‘till finally you feel like a lawyer. This is why I advise students to tune in. Students shouldn’t worry if things take a while to ‘come together’. The law is hard, so if they find it difficult, that’s normal! Hard does not mean insurmountable, and reading law-related fiction and listening to the Law Report will mean things jell faster. My other advice to students is that they should look after themselves and not forget to have fun – these are useful skills in the legal working world as well.”
Bronwen Ewens and Chris Forder