Law Student Notebook Collection

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Collection Description

This collection provides access to some law school notebooks of Australian legal figures who studied at The University of Melbourne. Sir Keith Officer graduated in 1912, Sir Kenneth Hamilton Bailey who commenced his law studies during World War 1 and graduated from Corpus Christi College, Oxford in 1923, and Robin Sharwood who graduated in 1954. The law school notebooks of Officer and Sharwood assist researchers in understanding what law was taught to Australian law students at different points in time.

Acknowedgement: This digitisation project was funded by The Frances Forbes Society.


Sir Kenneth Hamilton Bailey (1898 – 1972)

Kenneth Hamilton Bailey commenced his studies at The University of Melbourne in 1917 and deferred his studies in January 1918 to join the Australian Imperial Force. He served in England and briefly in France with the Australian Field Artillery. After Bailey was discharged in Melbourne in May 1919, he resumed his studies. He was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship for Victoria in 1919, which took him to Corpus Christi College, Oxford where he graduated in arts and law. In 1924, Bailey returned to the University of Melbourne as a lecturer in history and vice-master of Queen’s College. He became professor of jurisprudence, was appointed as the University’s first Australian- born Dean of Law. Bailey also held the chair of public law. His expertise as an international and constitutional lawyer lead him to take leave from academia in 1937 to serve as an Australian envoy to the League of Nations and in 1942 to act as an advisor to the Attorney General’s Department, In 1945 Bailey was asked by Dr H.V. Evatt to act as an advisor to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations at the time when the draft Charter of the United Nations was being considered. Bailey left the University in 1946 to become Solicitor-General of Australia, a position he held until 1964. In 1958, Bailey was knighted and from 1964-1969 he served as Australia’s high commissioner to Canada. Bailey received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Melbourne at a special conferring ceremony in Canberra in 1972.

Sir Frank Keith Officer (1889 – 1969)

Frank Keith Officer was a senior Australian public servant, best known for his postings in ambassadorial positions around the world, with a career in diplomatic service spanning 40 years. He played a key role in developing Australian foreign relations during the Second World War and post-war period.

Upon graduation from the University of Melbourne in 1912 with a Bachelor of Laws, Officer completed his articles and was called to the Bar. In April 1913, Officer accepted a position as associate to Justice Henry Bournes Higgins of the High Court of Australia and president of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Between 1914 and 1918, Officer served in the Australian Imperial Force at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, where he was Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General and Deputy Assistant Adjutant General. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1917 for gallantry and was also honored as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1919.

After the First World War, Officer served with the British Colonial Service in Nigeria and then joined the Australian Department of External Affairs in 1927. In 1928, he accompanied the Australian delegation to the League of Nations in Geneva and was present in Paris at the signing of the “Kellogg-Briand” Pact, which renounced war as an instrument of national policy.

As Chargé d’Affaires in Tokyo, Officer received Japan's formal declaration of war in December 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the Second World War he also held diplomatic posts in the Soviet Union and China. As Ambassador to China he saw the fall of Nanking to communist troops in 1949.

Officer was later Ambassador to France, was in the Australian delegation at the Fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York and in 1951 led the Australian delegation to the Sixth Session of the United Nations General Assembly in Paris. Officer received a knighthood in 1950 for his services as an ambassador.

Robin Sharwood (1931 - 2015)

Born on 22 June 1931, Professor Robin Sharwood’s life of law was marked by many milestones. Academically, he excelled – achieving his BA in 1953 and LLB a year later, graduating with first class honors and being awarded the Supreme Court Prize. Upon completion of articles at Norris, Coates & Hearle he was admitted to practise in 1955 and a life at the Bar was taken for granted. Professor Sharwood’s talents did not go unnoticed and he was appointed Independent Lecturer and research assistant to Professor Zelman Cowen, then Dean of Melbourne Law School. In 1956, he earned his LLM from University of California at Berkeley and was assistant lecturer in law at the London School of Economics before finally returning to a Senior Lecturer position at the University of Melbourne in 1958. After a stint at the Australian National University, he successfully defended his SJD at Harvard as Fulbright Scholar in 1962 before returning to the University of Melbourne and going on to become the Fourth Warden of Trinity College. After an extended period at the Law Foundation Sharwood once again returned to the University of Melbourne in 1984 where his lectures were attended by students and faculty alike. His life in academia was matched by his life of faith, having served the religious community of Melbourne in varying capacities as an Anglican layman. Sharwood was made an AM in 2000 and awarded the honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Melbourne in 2003.


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