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The 72-year-old math lecturer that became a lawyer

This article appears in: Alumni stories, Balance work, life and study, Law
213 Ausball 25 01 01 %282016 04 04 02 18 07 UTC%29 1

After starting her career as a maths teacher, Rosemary Jacob did a complete 180 and took on the challenge of being a lawyer.

You might think that after teaching secondary school maths for 30 years and then being a maths lecturer for another 15, that a mathematics graduate like Rosemary Jacob would stick with numbers. But for Rosemary, the pull to study law and help people was too great.

"My initial introduction to business law and an awareness of the problems many experience when needing unaffordable legal advice led me to set my goal to study law," says Rosemary.

It was this goal that saw Rosemary enrol in a Bachelor of Laws (Graduate) course at Charles Darwin University and study her first units, while lecturing maths to first-year engineering students. Shortly after, she finished her lecturing job and began studying full-time.

Soon after, she was given a seat on the CDU Council.

When the undergraduate student representative on the CDU Council’s time was up, I took his place. I suspect that I was probably the oldest undergraduate to serve on Council!

But Rosemary still wasn’t done. During her studies she took on a mediation training course and enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies, which she undertook concurrently with her last degree units.

“By the end of 2007, I had completed the degree. I was admitted in February 2008 at age 72.”


Rosemary stood true to her goal of helping people through law by volunteering as a Coordinator for the Darwin Community Legal Service, later providing free legal advice sessions, and working as a mediator with the Community Justice Centre.

Rosemary deeply enjoyed both aspects of her legal career but has a soft spot for mediation.

If I was asked to compare the sense of satisfaction I derived from mediating and practising law, mediation wins hands down. Law, like politics, is adversarial and win-lose. Mediation is a win-win exercise and, nationally, has an 80%+ success rate.

While Rosemary stopped practicing law in mid-2012, she continued as a mediator until 2017. She has some important advice for those trying to choose their area of practice.

“I think anyone contemplating practising law needs to be very clear how they want to specialise. I studied family law and volunteered in the office of a family law solicitor during a Christmas semester break. That was enough to convince me that the emotional drain I would be exposed to was not for me!"

Rosemary (2016_04_04 02_18_07 UTC)

“A career as a mediator might be less financially rewarding but it is extraordinarily satisfying to see the parties shake hands on an agreement!”

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