When Amit Poonath studied psychology, he thought he would help individuals change their lives. Then he realised he wanted to affect change in communities and to do that he realised he needed to learn how to change policies.
Now the international student is in his third and final year of a Juris Doctor – the ANU College of Law’s postgraduate law degree.
Where does your law student story begin?
As a child, shaping my identity was always remarkably big as my family used to move around a lot.
With each new place, my interests wandered too. I did my undergraduate degree in psychology and was set on practising, but first I wanted a gap year. I travelled to India to spend some time there and during the course of things got involved with non-governmental work in education and educational policy. The latter half of that year was probably the most intriguing and challenging of times. I came to understand what policy meant to different sections of the society and how one could navigate interests.
When people say you can’t change the world, I think that’s true. But is that a good enough reason not to do your part?
How did that lead you to the ANU College of Law?
I started to think keenly about this area and realised I wanted to work in it. I became so interested in policy that I considered a master of public policy to broaden my horizons. Following some interesting conversations, including some with ANU Law academics, I realised what I wanted for my graduate education was a degree as versatile as my interests and aspirations.
Something that I could use to learn a completely new skill-set, yet at the same time, something that would complement my undergraduate studies, and be applicable to a wide range of industries. That was law. That was the JD.
Just take ANU law graduates for example; one finds our alumni in a range of different settings. To me, studying the law does not necessarily mean working in law, it includes working with law as well. If I end up as a barrister or solicitor I am positive I would be able to perform well, though why not think of law differently?
Where do your interests lie in law?
No surprises there, public law definitely.
I find it fascinating to reflect on the relationship between the State and the Citizen, especially in a democratic context. From legal conceptions of governmental power to the theoretical ideas about the rights discourse, the idea of authority has and will continue to intrigue me. What lies ahead is uncertain, but I hope to make the most of whatever I find or that which comes my way.
Designed for students who have completed their undergraduate degree in a discipline other than law, the ANU Juris Doctor allows you to gain the professional qualification required for admission to legal practice in Australia. Building on the knowledge and experience you’ve gained in your undergraduate degree and working life, the ANU JD places a contemporary focus on law and legal issues to create an engaging, highly relevant program of study. The degree is available on-campus or online.
This post is proudly sponsored by the Australian National University College of Law.