Australia: Monash Law Alumni celebrate 50 years of friendship

In 2024, Monash Law is celebrating 60 years of creating legal innovators, impactful research and increasing access to justice. At the same time, some of those legal innovators are celebrating milestones of their own.

Robyn Campbell and Tim North both attended orientation day at Monash Law in early 1974 and they are celebrating 50 years of connection this year. Beyond the Monash Law alumni network, Robyn and Tim have maintained a strong friendship with each other and many other graduates.

They’ve also enjoyed a strong connection with Monash Law throughout the decades.

“I’ve been involved with Monash Law, with recruitment of graduates, since I graduated from Monash Law myself – either as an employer or as an advisor. I’ve always had a relationship with Monash.”

Robyn Campbell’s alternative Law career

“I’m in an alternative law career because I worked in human resources rather than practising law. Within that field, a law degree has always been of assistance. So, I’ve always been involved somehow,” explains Robyn.

Robyn Campbell has worked in the public sector, private sector, university sector and now runs her own business.

“It was the early days of people management rather than personnel when I began and I was probably the first HR manager with a law degree in a large firm.”

That large firm was Clayton Utz, which grew from a base of around 75 staff in Melbourne when Robyn started to around 2000 nationally when she was National HR Director.

“I’ve worked in a large law firm as the National Director of HR at Clayton Utz, and subsequently I’ve worked with legal people as individuals, in firms and for corporates in career management.”

“I loved it. I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of what were then called articled clerks, who have gone on to bigger and better things. It’s great going back and seeing what they’ve done in their careers. I think that’s probably my biggest satisfaction,” smiles Robyn.

She now describes her current role as ‘fading out’ to retirement while helping people with career transitioning and career path management. One person who might dispute the degree of fading out is her friend of 50 years Tim North OAM KC.

Tim North OAM KC

Tim North’s career began with a message on a noticeboard at Monash Law. No, not in the Law School Gazette email, or even the printed yellow version of the Law School Gazette, but a card on an actual notice board that was held up with pins.

He’d completed his Articles and was wandering through the Monash Law building foyer when he saw an ad for an associate position with the late judge Ken Marks (1924-2005).

“Justice Marks was a colourful character who had been a bomber pilot in the Second World War and flew in the Battle of Britain, so he wasn’t much for the rigour of doing things by tradition. In those days in the profession there were mostly old, male, warrant officer type associates that were friends of the judge,” reveals Tim.

Breaking with tradition, Justice Marks thought a Monash Law graduate would make a good associate, so he pinned his hopes to the noticeboard at Clayton campus. Tim went to an interview in the Supreme Court, was offered the job and spent the next two years in a world he’d previously thought was sacrosanct.

“I didn’t know much about the way in which the legal profession operates and didn’t have much family connection into the law,” recalls Tim.

Tim’s appointment as a graduate associate may, or may not, have broken the mould, but these days, almost all judges have two associates and almost all of them are graduates. He recommends the role of graduate associate as an excellent foundation for practising law.

“You learn all about how the court worked. You learn who’s the relevant person to talk to,” he remembers.