Head of Law School looks forward to new challenges

6 Dec 2017

The University of Queensland’s Academic Dean and Head of School of the TC Beirne School of Law Professor Sarah Derrington has been appointed as the new President of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) and as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia.

Professor Derrington has resigned from her position at the Law School and will start her new roles at the ALRC and Federal Court of Australia in January 2018.

After almost 20 years at UQ, Professor Derrington said working at the Law School and Business, Economics and Law Faculty was both a privilege and a learning experience.

“I am indebted to all my colleagues for their support and for their commitment to the School, and most particularly to our students. It will be very difficult to say good bye to so many wonderful colleagues and friends,” she said.

UQ Business, Economics and Law Faculty Executive Dean Professor Andrew Griffiths congratulated Professor Derrington on her new appointments and said she had made an outstanding contribution to the Law School in her four and a half years as Academic Dean and Head of School.

“Sarah has led a number of major transitions for the School including the re-imagination and refurbishment of the Forgan Smith Building West Wing, and the introduction of a revised curriculum to ensure students receive the highest quality and most relevant legal educational experience,” he said.

“This year, the TC Beirne School of Law was ranked 48 in the world in the QS World University Rankings and its offerings ranked 54 in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Subject Rankings – a clear indicator of the quality of the School’s teaching, learning and research activities.

“It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with Sarah, and I would like to thank her for her dedication to the staff, students and alumni at the School. I wish Sarah the very best in her new roles.”

During her tenure as Academic Dean and Head of School, Professor Derrington focused on increasing opportunities for students to access University and obtained significant funding for student scholarships, culminating in a generous donation of $2M for the LEAD Scholarships.

The LEAD Scholarship is offered annually to deserving students from disadvantaged backgrounds who intend to study an undergraduate law program at UQ. The Law School will welcome its second intake of LEAD scholars in 2018.

Professor Derrington was a teacher at the Law School between 1998 and 2011, and was Director of the Centre for Maritime Law and the Marine and Shipping Law Unit.

During the same period, she held positions as Academic Advisor, Deputy Director of Studies (Law), Professor of Admiralty Law and Associate Dean (Academic) of the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law.

After returning to full-time practice as a barrister, arbitrator and mediator in 2011, Professor Derrington maintained an active role in the Law School as an Adjunct Professor and as a mooting coach.

She steered a UQ team to victory in the annual International Maritime Law Arbitration Moot in 2012, and coached the 2013 team that defended the title in England.

Professor Derrington is also one of Australia's leading maritime law experts, particularly in the areas of admiralty law and marine insurance, and has published extensively in these areas and is widely acknowledged as one of the leading scholars in the field.

Professor Derrington serves on the boards of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the Australian Maritime College and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

She was appointed a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law in 2009 and a Fellow of the Nautical Institute in 2013. In 2016, Professor Derrington was appointed Titulary Member of the Comité Maritime International.

Beyond academia, her professional experience has involved time working as a lawyer at the leading commercial law firms Minter Ellison and Freehills, as well as practice at the Bar.

In October this year, the UQ Law Society created an award named after Professor Derrington to honour her dedication to the School.

The Professor Sarah Derrington Perpetual Trophy for Leadership will be awarded annually to a law student who had made an outstanding contribution to the student body and the School.

Media: Caroline Enright, TC Beirne School of Law Communications, +61 7 3365 2596 or c.enright@uq.edu.au.