University of Sydney Press Release: Law School Academics Honoured at Australian Legal Research Awards

Sydney Law School staff members take home prestigious honours

Three esteemed staff members have been recognised for their outstanding contributions to legal scholarship at the 2023 Australian Legal Research Awards (ALRAs).

In 2019, the Council of Australian Law Deans established a prestigious national award scheme for the legal academic discipline, the Australian Legal Research Awards (‘ALRA’). The principal objective of the ALRA scheme is to encourage, recognise and promote research excellence and innovation in the discipline of law by Australian legal scholars.

Professor Emerita Anne Twomey, Dr. Jeff Gordon and Dr. Carolyn McKay have each received accolades in their respective categories, solidifying the Sydney Law School’s position as a leader in legal education and research.

Professor Twomey, a distinguished scholar of Australian constitutional law, has been awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

During her tenure at Sydney Law School, Professor Twomey’s research has garnered international recognition. With five sole-authored monographs and numerous scholarly book chapters and journal articles, she has established herself as a leading authority in her field.

Professor Twomey’s research has delved into various aspects of constitutional law, including the reserve powers of heads of state, the Australia Acts of 1986, and the relationship between the Queen and Australian Governors.

Her influential research has informed public discourse and played a vital role in shaping constitutional law in Australia and beyond. Professor Twomey’s contributions extend beyond her scholarship, she has made significant contributions to research practice, inspiring colleagues, and mentoring junior staff members.

Dr. Gordon, an expert in free speech and judicial federalism, has been awarded the ALRA in the Article-ECR (Early Career Researcher) category for his groundbreaking research on the law of protest during the COVID-19 pandemic.

His winning article, ‘Protest Before and During a Pandemic‘, provides a comprehensive analysis of the New South Wales Supreme Court’s response to public assemblies, shedding light on the balance between free speech and other public interests.

The impetus for this article was the New South Wales Supreme Court’s response to Black Lives Matter protests during the pandemic.

Dr. Gordon was extremely pleased to take home the award.

“The ARLAs are a prestigious national award scheme for outstanding legal scholarship, measured by the work’s significance and timeliness, originality, theoretical and conceptual rigour, methodology, style and organisation, and contribution to the field.” Gordon said.

“Although winning for a sole-authored work, I cannot take sole credit. Many of my wonderful colleagues at Sydney Law School read drafts of my article and challenged me at critical places.

“The article was vastly improved from their generous engagement, and I am deeply grateful to them.”

In her successful bid for the Non-Traditional Research Output (NTRO) category, Dr. Carolyn McKay, a Senior Research Fellow at the Sydney Law School, was acknowledged for her innovative work on ‘The Crime Scene Motel Project’.

The project explores the unique, but overlooked, situational and spatial elements of motels that enable a surprising range of transgression.

Motivated by Dr McKay’s sustained and original legal research of national and international criminal case law, the project examines the motel room as a crime scene. Motel rooms present a unique conflation of intimacy, privacy and anonymity with a world of transience, strangers, lawlessness, sex and the uncanny.

Dr McKay’s research has contributed significantly to understanding criminal behaviour and victimisation in these often-overlooked environments.

“As I’ve been working on this interdisciplinary project for a few years, I was really thrilled for it to be recognised by the Council of Australian Law Deans,” Dr McKay said.

“I thank them for their support of non-traditional research outputs that provide new audiences and new platforms for disseminating research.”

Law School academics Mr Ben Mostyn, Dr Ben Chen and Dr Zofia Bednarz were also all shortlisted for awards on the evening.

Professor Twomey, Dr. Gordon and Dr. McKay’s recognition at the ALRAs reflects their exceptional dedication to legal research and their substantial contributions to the legal profession.

Dr Arlie Loughnan, Professor of Criminal Law and Criminal Law Theory and Associate Dean Research, Sydney Law School, offered her warm congratulations to award winners and shortlisted candidates and praised the ALRA for encouraging and promoting research excellence and innovation in the discipline of law.

“Sydney Law School performed very well in these nationally competitive awards for legal research,” Loughnan said.

“Taking home three wins, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to Professor Emerita Anne Twomey, the first woman recipient, and two awards for ECRs, as well as three shortlisted candidates is a great result. We are extremely proud of our colleagues.”