Graduating University of Tasmania law and social science students were lucky to receive sound and experienced advice from the Honourable Justice Michael Kirby AC, CMG as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

Justice Kirby, who is one of Australia’s most celebrated jurists, was admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws for his ongoing contribution to the University and achievements nationally and internationally.

During his speech to the graduates from the College of Arts, Law and Education (CALE), Justice Kirby laid out his 10 commandments that they should aspire to in order to make the world a better place. 

Honourable Justice Michael Kirby AC, CMG - Photo by Chris Crerar

Ten Commandments for graduates according to Justice Kirby.

1.      We must all be deeply engaged with the new technology. It shapes, changes and remodels our world. The world and every profession and every occupation is changing dramatically because of technology. Those who cannot keep up will be left behind.

2.      We must all be ready for enormous social changes. Social scientists know this but lawyers too must commit themselves more vigorously than in the past to drag the law into harmony with the world of change. The law on aboriginals, the law on women’s rights, the law on racial discrimination, and even the law on gay rights and equal marriage.

3.      We must constantly confront our disappointments. Anyone who truly ventures will sometimes fail, that is for sure. Safe and pleasant lives will not make the most of the talents that are gathered here in this room. Risk taking is essential to the fulfilment as a graduate. Each of us must be to our own self true and that is the most important commandment.

4.      A university education must teach us to be aware of the defects of our own discipline whether it be law, social science or anything else. To rise to the very top of a profession and still to be self-critical about it, to be inventive and to be open to completely new ideas.

5.      We must all serve our paths in serving the disadvantaged, there are plenty of them. To be more generous in volunteering and providing pro bono assistance to those who are in need.

6.      We must never forget those who share this day, even if they are not with us today. Family, friends, fellow graduands, and colleagues. Strangely enough, many university friends remain our companions throughout life’s journeys. They are an unfounded dividend of university life. Cherish it.

7.      We have to love ourselves a bit more, I don’t mean, of course, in the sense of vanity or self-satisfaction. We must guard our mental and physical health from the stresses and pressures that are so much greater today. It is not a weakness to admit stress.

8.      We must remember our university and our teachers after today, including the very first teacher at infant school.

9.      We must be ever ready to descent from received wisdom. To challenge long held and very respectable opinions and stand up against received wisdom for what we truly believe. This is the way progress is made in our community, in our world and in our species.

10.   We must try and find companions to help us through the journey of life. This is how most humans are programmed is to seek and give love. Some find it, some do not but everyone should have the support from the community to find love.  

You can read the full speech here. 


Interested in studying Law or Social Science at the University of Tasmania? 

Visit: http://www.utas.edu.au/courses/study/law for more information. 

If you are interested being a legal expert without stepping into a courtroom then the Bachelor of Legal Studies would be perfect for you.  

For Social Science - Bachelor of Social Science 

Don't let your ATAR define your future

Contact the Law Faculty or the Arts Student Central and speak to one of our advisers to see how we can provide you a clear and planned pathway to achieving your goal.


Cover photo credit: Chris Crerar