The University of New South Wales Law Journal (‘UNSW Law Journal’) is one of Australia’s leading academic legal journals, and one of the few to be produced entirely by a voluntary student board. It is the flagship publication of the UNSW Law School and one of the most widely cited legal reviews in Australia. The Journal publishes four issues annually. In 2024, two are General Issues, and two are Thematic/General Issues. The Thematic component focuses on and brings together a range of perspectives on a single subject.
The Journal is renowned for its noteworthy and topical content aimed at contributing to contemporary legal debate. The Journal is a refereed publication, committed to publishing articles that are relevant not only to academics, but also to legal and business professionals. It is widely cited in academic texts, other scholarly journals, Hansard, parliamentary committee reports, government reports and in the news media. It is also regularly cited in court judgments, including those of the High Court of Australia.
The Journal has a diverse and influential readership. It is distributed among Justices of the High Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia and Supreme Court of NSW. Subscribers also include government departments, non-government organisations, law firms and universities worldwide. In addition, the Journal can be accessed through leading online legal services HeinOnline, AustLII and RMIT Informit.
The success of the Journal is a credit to the contributions made by the successive generations of student members of the Editorial Board, the Faculty Advisers, UNSW Law, the Journal’s sponsors, and its contributors, all of whom have helped shape and guide the UNSW Law Journal since its inception.
The Journal – ISSN: 0313-0096
The University of New South Wales Law Journal publishes both General and Thematic Issues. General Issues are open to submissions on any topic with relevance to Australian or international law, with Thematic Issues focused on an area of contemporary significance. The Journal publishes four Issues annually.
In 2024, the Journal is publishing four Issues: two General and two Thematic/General. The Thematic Issues will focus on the topics ‘Developments in Rights, Freedoms and Accountability’ and ‘Equity, Conscience and Commercial Morality’.
The Forum – ISSN: 2209-6582 (Online)
The University of New South Wales Law Journal Forum (‘Forum’), was first published as a print supplement to the Journal from 1995 to 2012. In 2017, the Forum was re-imagined and re-introduced as an entirely online companion to the UNSW Law Journal. Recognising the demands of an increasingly interactive legal community, and the slow nature of traditional publication processes, the Forum aims to promote discussion and debate by publishing short scholarly pieces that make a timely contribution to legal scholarship in Australia and respond directly to issues raised in the Journal.
The Forum is designed specifically for short-form pieces of less than 5000 words, and publishes a variety of submissions including essays, case comments, legislation reviews, article responses, book reviews, and audiovisual recordings. Each format benefits from a faster publication cycle and the greater engagement made possible by online publication. You can view the Forum here.
In order to promote student research, the Journal also manages a publication in the Australasian Legal Scholarship Library, hosted by AustLII, for research papers prepared by LLB or JD law students at UNSW. Lecturers and Supervisors recommend outstanding student papers for publication at the end of each semester. You can access the Student Series here.
The first issue of the UNSW Law Journal was produced in 1975, with the first volume of four issues publicly launched in 1976 – the year that the first group of students graduated from the UNSW Law School. Produced by an Editorial Board of seven student members with Faculty Adviser John McMillan (subsequently Australia’s first Information Commissioner), the Journal was born as the flagship publication of the emerging Law School.
Since that time, the Journal has continued the tradition of covering important legal issues of the day. It bears the distinction of being entirely managed and produced by students. Members of the Editorial Board are selected from among the most exceptional students of the UNSW Law School, with topics for Thematic issues conceived and produced by the student Editors. The students bring with them a fresh perspective and an enthusiasm for the law that ensures the Journal reflects contemporary legal thinking and exceptional editorial standards.
In August 1995, the Journal published the first print issue of the Forum. Initially, the Forum was launched as a short, polemic newsletter designed to complement the General and Thematic Issues. It informed subscribers of upcoming topics, updated published Issues and provided an arena for comment and debate on current legal affairs, with different perspectives in a series of articles on a particular topic. Following the introduction of a peer-review process for all submissions to the Forum, articles necessarily became as academically rigorous as all other articles published by the Journal, and of comparable length.
A decision was made by the Editorial Board in 2012 to consolidate the publications into three annual Issues, each containing a General and Thematic component. The General component of each Issue contained articles on a broad range of subjects related to Australian and international law, with a new topic devised for the Thematic component of each Issue. In 2015, the Journal expanded to publish four Issues per year to accommodate the volume of high-quality submissions it receives.
In 2018, the Journal shifted to a new structure of publishing three General Issues and one Thematic Issue each year. This change is in recognition of the Journal’s strength as a generalist law journal, and will accommodate the re-introduction of the Forum as an online companion to the Journal. The Forum will enhance the Journal’s ability to respond in a timely manner to topics of contemporary legal importance, and encourage debate and discourse around issues raised in the Journal.
In 2021, the Journal re-introduced Issues with a General and Thematic component for two Issues in order to ensure the continual publication of general articles throughout the year.
The UNSW Law Journal relies on the generous support of its four Premier Sponsors: Allens, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Herbert Smith Freehills, and King & Wood Mallesons. The Journal’s launch events each year are hosted at the offices of our Premier Sponsors.