We are delighted to announce that the ALTA Annual Conference 2013 will be hosted by and held at the ANU College of Law, Australian National University, Canberra, from Sunday 29 September 2013 to Tuesday 1 October 2013.
The theme of this year’s conference* explores the proposition that through our teaching (and our research) we determine the way in which our students understand the law and what it is to be a lawyer. The way in which we structure our law school curricula and the individual courses within those curricula shapes how our students conceive of the intellectual and ethical parameters of the law. We prioritise, wittingly or otherwise, certain areas and methods of inquiry, and in so doing we send a signal to our students about what is important in learning about the law. In this way, law teachers act as intellectual gatekeepers into the discipline of law.
The theme of the 2013 ALTA conference invites us to reflect on this gatekeeping role: what responsibilities does it carry? What scope do we have to make distinctive contributions to this role? What role should students play? Is the gatekeeper metaphor accurate?
(*borrowed from a paper by Lyman Johnson, "Corporate Law Professors as Gatekeepers," (2009) 6 University of St. Thomas Law Journal: Issue 2, Article 12).
Please note that this is a departure from the usual mid-year winter dates (typically the first week of July) that have become customary in recent years, though it is a reversion to some instances of past practice.
The spring dates have been chosen for a number of reasons. First, the dates fall in Universities Australia's second semester 'common week' break; though not all universities observe this, it is the week in which the greatest number do. Secondly, it is widely believed that first semester marking and second semester preparation commitments have seriously inhibited mid-year attendance in recent years; we think that the later mid-semester timing will allow greater participation (even for those with teaching commitments, which, with reasonable notice, may, in some cases at least, be capable of readjustment). Thirdly, spring in Canberra is as delightful as winter is forbidding (with the timing also coinciding with Canberra's spectacular Floriade festival)!
The ANU College of Law is delighted to host the ALTA Annual Conference 2013. The College is Australia's 7th oldest law school, following the establishment from the 1850s onwards of a law school in each of Australia's state capitals. It was founded in Canberra, the national capital, in 1960, as the Faculty of Law of the Australian National University, though it existed in another form from the 1930s as the Canberra University College, which awarded its degrees through the University of Melbourne and of which Sir Robert Garran was a prominent founder.
Today, the ANU College of Law prides itself on its leadership in legal research and legal education, nationally and internationally, and is a large and diverse institution that not only engages in the core educational and research activities of a modern law school, but also reaches out into the legal and wider community in a multitude of ways, for example by hosting a range of external bodies such as the National Judicial College of Australia and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies. It is well known for its ethos of commitment to law reform and social justice, and for its promotion of this ethos across the sector.
As Dean of the ANU College of Law until the end of 2012 and thus current President of ALTA for the purpose of the conference, Professor Michael Coper is delighted to set the organisation of the conference in motion. In a seamless transition, his successor as Dean in 2013, and thus as President of ALTA for 2013, the esteemed Professor Stephen Bottomley, is equally delighted to take over the task from the beginning of next year. We both warmly invite you all to start to think seriously about joining us in Canberra in the spring of 2013 - the year of Canberra's Centenary!