Law a university for the real world


06 October 2017

Guests gathered to celebrate the QUT Law School and raised an enormous $40,000 for disadvantaged law students. 

On 26 March 1974, the Queensland Institute of Technology (QIT) decided to establish a law course and three years later in February 1977 the first cohort of law students began their studies.

Forty years later, more than 200 people gathered at QUT to celebrate the School's past and current staff, alumni, students and achievements.

The School has produced a myriad of high-achieving alumni, ranging from Justices, Judges and Magistrates to Partners, Directors and CEO’s.

One of the School’s most notable alumni, the Honourable Chief Justice Catherine Holmes, delivered the evening’s main address. The Chief Justice spoke of her time at QUT where she completed her Practical Legal Training, and of subsequent changes to Australian legal education.

“The course was intensely practical,” she said. "I was still using the will and conveyancing precedents years later. It took me to court for the first time and lit a spark of enthusiasm for advocacy in me that never went out and shaped my future.”

QUT’s Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake and Executive Dean Professor John Humphrey, spoke of the School’s history and commended staff, past and present, on contributing to its ongoing success.

“I would like to pay tribute to my current colleagues in the Law Faculty,” said Professor Humphrey. “They are a dedicated bunch. They are passionate, caring and energetic as they seek to produce graduates who not only obtain employment but who have the skills and capacity to be leaders and make a difference to the development of their chosen professions as they face the challenges of the future,” he said.

Throughout the evening, DeepBlue combined the lush strings of an orchestra, the groove of a band, the drama of theatre, and the excitement of a circus to entertain guests.

Professors Bill Duncan and Des Butler took to the floor to retell stories of their combined 67 years at QUT. Professor Butler began his journey as a law student in 1981, and Bill as a staff member in 1986. Both have since transitioned in two of the School’s most respected academics and unexpected comedians. 

The Head of the Law School Associate Professor Judith McNamara introduced the Cathy O'Keeffe Memorial Law Founders' Scholarship and spoke of Cathy’s commitment in supporting disadvantaged law students. Cathy O'Keeffe was an integral part of the Law School and QUT for more than 37 years and the Faculty honours her memory through this scholarship.

Once matched by QUT, over $40,000 has been raised for the scholarship through event registrations, a silent auction, individual donations and a raffle.

The Faculty sincerely thanks the wonderful organisations who donated items toward the silent auction, individual donors and guests who attended the event.

Silent auction and raffle donors: The Byron at Byron, Spicers Balfour, Otto, QUT Precincts, The Golden Pig Food & Wine School, Hot Air Balloon Brisbane , Urban Climb, Escape Manor, Manta Lodge YHA and Scuba Centre, Merlo, Sit Down Comedy Club, Blueroom Cinebar, MC Caterers, John Humphrey and Mark Doyle.

Photos from the event can be found on the Faculty’s Flickr account.

If you were unable to attend the event and would like to donate towards the scholarship, please email

Stay connected with the Law Alumni QUT Chapter through LinkedIn and sign up to the Dean’s Newsletter today.

QUT Faculty of Law

(L to R) Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake, the Honourable Chief Justice Catherine Holmes, Associate Professor Judith McNamara and Professor John Humphrey.

Our wonderful School of Law Alumni reunite.

Faculty of Law Staff, past and present.