Issue 9, Semester 2, 2019
The De Minimis editorial team revealed the other week that LSS committee members are rewarded annually with a party worth an average of $27.50 per head. It’s important to note how this remuneration compares to other societies representing law students.
The Graduate Student Association declares that it provides ‘enrolled graduate students at the University of Melbourne with representation, events, training and support’ and that the organisation is ‘the heart of graduate student life’.The GSA received over $2 million a year in SSAF funding, the student services and amenities fee we all pay each year, as opposed to the reliance on corporate sponsorship by the LSS. The students who sit on the GSA committee, many of whom have been law students in recent years, have been provided ‘honoraria’ payments. It is understood these have been upwards of $8,000 per member in recent years. The GSA admit committee members are paid on their website but fail to disclose how much. The most recent available financial statements show the GSA spend roughly $130,000 on these payments every year. De Minimis contacted the GSA committee for comment recently, however they have not yet responded.
In contrast, LSS volunteers can dedicate over one hundred hours in a semester and receive a fairly average dinner or party in return. So, while the LSS spends the money of corporate sponsors on initiatives for law students, the GSA spends the money of law students on themselves.
If you want to cash in on a luxurious event for volunteering, join a journal! MJIL and MULR both hold multiple lavish evenings to reward their volunteers. These events are much more than $27.50 per head and are held at venues such as the National Gallery of Victoria.
The amount of money that sponsors are willing to provide to the MULSS is astounding. It enables the committee to do some pretty incredible things. You’d be hard pressed to find a student who has not reaped a benefit from any of the LSS initiatives.
Whether it’s free tutorials, snags, beers, yoga, netball, or guest lectures. Whether it’s the parties, balls, camps, networking events, which all run at no profit. Whether it’s ongoing advocacy for Indigenous Australians, women, queer groups and general equity. Whether it’s any of the other societies or initiatives the LSS chooses to fund. Whether it’s the funding of smaller societies, donations to charity or the dozens of competitions, run both internally and externally, or the covering of the costs for MLS students to attend competitions interstate and overseas.
Beyond the cost, these events depend on the thousands of hours of volunteering put in by LSS committee members each year. The thousands of cumulative hours of volunteering is done on top of all other study and work commitments. I hardly think a dinner to celebrate those efforts (at a lower cost than a burger, chips and beer) is excessive.
You are privileged to reap these benefits. They are not available at all law schools. At the Australian Law Student Association conference in 2018, I was a little embarrassed when students from other schools would ask us how the LSS could produce things such as glossy careers guides, student tutorial services and career networking events. It is simply not possible without the large corporate sponsorship Melbourne Law School attracts. The above initiatives don't come for free, but you don't pay for them either. And it's due to the hard work of an LSS volunteer that literally any of those initiatives exist.
If, in providing all this, the biggest scandal De Minimis can rally up about the LSS is that its volunteers are rewarded with some wet dumplings and crackling karaoke, I say the LSS is doing a damn good job.
 Admittedly, the LSS derives a small portion of its budget from SSAF fees granted by the GSA.
Jimi is a former JD Student and was 2018 Vice President of MULSS, 2017 Activities Director and 2016 First Year Rep, spending 3 years on the Committee.