Lectureship makes invaluable impact on students' learning

28 November 2017
Helping students from all backgrounds succeed

In 2013 the Yim Family Foundation established the Colin Phegan Lectureship in honour of former Sydney Law School dean, Emeritus Professor Colin Phegan.

Andrew Dyer and Tom Yim

Mr Andrew Dyer (left) with Mr Tom Yim (right).

The lectureship was created to support a young lawyer wishing to embark on an academic career and make a difference to students’ learning.

“I wanted to acknowledge the debt I owe the Law School and the University for my education, and since it was Colin Phegan’s help that got me through law and to where I am now, I wanted to name the scholarship after him,” says Mr Tom Yim.

As a student at Sydney Law School Mr Tom Yim experienced difficulties in the interpretation of case law, and it was Colin Phegan who helped him to overcome them.

“He took me aside, and gave me a one-to-one talk on the reasoning behind the judgments,” says Mr Yim. “Once that was clarified for me, I was better able to progress in the ongoing courses.”

The Colin Phegan Lecturership was awarded to Andrew Dyer in the beginning of 2014. Shortly after, Mr Dyer developed a new learning unit to provide first-year Juris Doctor (JD) students with guidance on how to read legal material, particularly cases, and assist them with problem-solving skills.

“Many students wanted greater direction early in their legal studies with reading cases and statutory materials,” says Mr Dyer. “They also wanted more assistance with problem questions. Some students were finding the material in the compulsory course, Contracts, pretty difficult. I developed the Legal Reasoning course with this feedback firmly in mind.”

The course was an overwhelming success in 2014, with a wealth of positive feedback from students. In 2015, Dyer expanded the course, adding five seminars covering torts to the five contracts-based seminars.

Through the generous support of the Yim Family Foundation, Andrew Dyer has been able to continue to offer the course to JD students every year.

“I cannot convey how grateful I am to the Yim Family Foundation for their generosity,” says Mr Dyer. “When appointed to the Colin Phegan Lectureship, I was honoured because I was already aware of Colin Phegan’s great contribution to Sydney Law School.

“I strive to provide the quality instruction that Colin did during his time at the University of Sydney, so it was important to devote a lot of time to developing and teaching the Legal Reasoning course.

“It assists students to develop the skills they need to succeed at law school; gives them a member of staff at the Law School whom they can approach if they are concerned about anything early on in their studies; enables them to receive extensive feedback about their work before they are assessed in any meaningful way; and, perhaps most importantly, addresses student concerns about isolation and lack of support.”

For Mr Yim and the foundation, the success of the lectureship is most satisfying. “It is wonderful that the Law School now provides a series of tutorials to help students through the same difficulties I had,” says Mr Yim.

“This eases their passage into law from various backgrounds and gives the Law School a more diverse range of students.”