Bond University has launched an Australian-first Master of Legal Administration (MLA), aimed at business executives who want to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the law.
The new program, which can be completed in one year full time or two years part time, has a similar structure to a Master of Business Administration (MBA), with students undertaking advanced law subjects that will support or progress their existing career.
Bond University Executive Dean of Law, Professor Nick James, said while other law schools offered master's programs for non-lawyers, the ability to undertake advanced subjects from the popular Juris Doctor (JD), a post-graduate qualification for those wanting to become solicitors, was unique.
"We have developed the program to suit a niche group of professionals who are not looking for a career change, but realise they need to know more about the law in their position or to move up the corporate ladder," he said.
"They may be business leaders who engage regularly with lawyers and law firms about matters or company directors who need a sophisticated understanding of corporate law and, while they want to know more, they don't want or need to do a full law degree."
Professor James said the MLA involved four foundation subjects from the JD, four masters subjects focusing on a particular area of legal interest and four subjects from across the university that are relevant to the students' career pathway.
"The subjects have been developed in a way that makes it easy for business professionals to enrol, with intensive on-campus delivery supported by an online program," he said.
Bond University finance manager Brad Andrews was the first to enrol in the program and said the qualification would position him well for a future Board role or chief financial officer (CFO) position.
He completed a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Accounting and Finance, in 2006 and a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) in 2009, and has worked in finance roles in Hong Kong, Germany and the Gold Coast, joining Bond four years ago.
He has also been Chair of the Gold Coast CPA Branch for four years and a member of the Tennis Gold Coast Executive Committee.
"I was looking for something to differentiate myself and the MLA program is an ideal lead-in to a Board or CFO position," said Mr Andrews.
"Working in finance, to have a real understanding of the law is of significant benefit on a day to day basis, for example, when dealing with procurement contracts or taxation law.
"The course provides a well rounded set of skills across areas such as legislation interpretation, contracts, dispute resolution and corporate governance, all of which are highly regarded skills.
"If you are in a commercial role, be it finance or a general manager, it is extremely valuable to have these skills so you can ask the right questions. You can't ask what you don't know."
Professor James said the MLA would broaden Bond's offering for post-graduate law students, with the JD to remain a popular choice for those changing to a legal career or accelerating their pathway in business, industry or government.
The JD can be completed at Bond in two years full-time, compared to three years at other universities, and leads to admission as a barrister or solicitor in all Australian jurisdictions.
"The JD program has a real emphasis on developing practical skills through internships, legal clinics and the professional focus that runs through the degree," he said.
"Like the MLA, the JD will continue to appeal to those who do not necessarily want to become a lawyer but want the benefits that come from having a law degree on their CV and the significant transferrable skills not just in terms of legal understanding, but critical thinking and research."
For further information on the MLA, visit bond.edu.au/program/master-legal-administration.