Law Library isn’t just for law students

Yes, common Arts folk can also use lawbry


  1. HER HONOUR: In June 2018, W Burke started a petition on website,, and directed their woes to the University of Sydney Law School and overall University Administration.
001: Review of petition

(a) The most common struggle facing law students, according to OP [original poster] is “finding a spot to study in the Law Library” because alien, non-law students take up their rightful, god-assigned seats.

(b) The plaintiff claims that “many” law students miss out on seats and are “forced to study in odd places”—clearly a major inconvenience given their 24/7 need to access legal resources, most of these items only available on two hour loan.

2. The library in question, Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library is at level L of the New Law School building, off Eastern Avenue. It has been on site since 2009 after moving from Phillip St, Sydney—and would have been a hell of a lot harder for law students to get to. Check your privilege and mad props to law students from way back then.

3. The Moot Court called upon the University of Sydney media team for insight into the admissibility of the plaintiff’s claims. According to a spokesperson, “students and staff have the choice to study in any of our [12] Library spaces […] and learning hubs”, including the Law Library. This was the case in the Phillip St location as well, and thus, for all law students ever. All spaces are open to members of the USyd community bar ‘the Quarter’–which is designated for postgraduate coursework students only.

4. The plaintiff states commerce, science, and arts students hog all the seats, however, as validated by the University, there is no way to know the breakdown of people using the Law Library. According to a spokesperson “there is no available data source to indicate the faculty of students studying in any of the Library spaces”, let alone how many non-law students are chilling in the Law Library. What are you doing, Burke? Peering over every laptop screen or scanning the titles of every textbook strawn on the Law Library’s pristine white desks? Typecasting the people sitting next to you based on the brands they’re wearing? Or listening into their conversations for key case findings?

5. “For too long,” the plaintiff says, “the University of Sydney has taken Law Students for granted”. This is a hard claim to swallow given the Sydney University Law Society (SULS) is one of the best funded on campus, and can reap the benefits of corporate sponsorship.

6. The Moot Court commissioned an independent review, involving current LLB (Bachelor of Laws) and JD (Juris Doctor) students. The review was conducted through the online survey platform Google Forms, which the court hears is popular among young people. The results are as follows:

002: Review of findings

(a) The majority (44 per cent) studied only once a week and only half that figure claimed to study in the Law Library every single day.

(b) Most of the participants didn’t actually know why they chose to study there, other than insistent protestations that “it’s the law library”. Other students cited proximity to their law classes, the aesthetics of interior design, and the low noise levels.

(c) Some respondents were more candid, revealing “Lawbry [youth argot for the Law Library] is filled with the worst people”, “has no natural light” and “[law students are] all sad and hate each other”. One student steered clear of the space because they wanted to “maintain what is left of my soul.”

(d) On the contrary, other students believed it is truly their natural born right, read: “Law student = Law library”, while another cited a “deep sense of entitlement to use it.”

(e) Only 16 per cent of those surveyed echoed Burke’s view that access to law resources were of vital importance.

(f) When asked about who they observed using the Law Library most, half of the respondents claimed it was a 50/50 split between law and non-law students. The next most popular answer was “mainly law students”. Finally, 5.6 per cent said: “¯\_()_/¯”.

(g) More than half stated they weren’t affected by non-law students being there, and 61 per cent believed non-law students should not be stopped from using the space.

(h) Opposing students believed they should have priority over the space, as large donations from law firms and other parties (cf. the Turnbull Reading Room, vulgarly known as the Cone of Silence, so the court is told) were given specifically for law students. These students believed faculty study spaces should be separated, and that law students have larger workloads than students of any other degree (another dubious claim if we compare law students’ 14 contact hours to the 25 hour and course loads of, say, engineering students).

(i) In concluding notes, one law student left a warning for all, law and non-law alike: “Don’t use it, because the roof is somehow always leaking and it looks like an apple store.”

7. An external auditor was also contracted to assess the seating situation of the Law Library, subject to addition and loss of seats. The grand total of seats was 495, depending on how you read the data.

003: Review of audit for level one

(a) The first level of the library contains 324 seats.

(b) 11 couches were counted; estimated to seat one person lying down, or five people if they enjoy intimate proximity.

(c) Staff seats at front desk: four chairs from staff room: 11 visible from glass doors, no further access granted.

004: Review of audit for level two

(a) Level 2 had 123 seats

8. According to the University’s 2017 annual report, 593 first year law undergraduates enrolled that year—a little more than the available seats at Lawbry on a good day. 1686 postgraduates also joined the Law School in 2017. It is clear that removing all Juris Doctor students would fix the seating issue.

9. The court finds that since there was no restriction on who could access the library, and no way to monitor what students or staff were entering or leaving, then there is no reason for elitism. Sure, it’s frustrating to not find a seat during exams, but how are you going to amend this? Begging the librarian to kick out the kid who got there first?

10. Like the Opal readers at peak time in Central, swipe card entry would surely only slow everyone down and create a bottleneck of angry law students.

11. As one survey participant noted, just book a room. If you have foresight, get in early online and reserve a private space for you and your law chums. If each of your cronies book periods consecutively, then using basic maths, you could have the room for the whole day.

12. For the purposes of the petition, only two supporters out of the 100 needed, were wrangled together. One was presumably W Burke themself (it should be noted that at date of publication, the Moot Court could not verify W Burke’s existence at all), and the second, a third-year undergraduate law student. This pitiable ratio is punishment enough.

I rest my case.