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The (legal) difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker

Sometimes, it might seem, contentious political issues are all about terminology. Words that dehumanise. Words that legalise—that is, words that tell people something’s acceptable. Not enough words simply explain. The High Court recently ruled that the government’s offshore detention centre on Nauru is constitutional (PDF, 78KB). Possibly the only good thing about this is that it’s made [...]

By | 2017-05-19T08:20:28+00:00 February 22nd, 2016|Legal writing|0 Comments

The 3 arms of government (and why wheels need to be round)

Most of you would know that we have a Constitution that—not really so long ago—denied the rights of some of our most vulnerable citizens. It gets away with being silent on fundamental rights by outlining the separation of powers—rights protection through process. There are 3 arms that balance each other out to make sure that the [...]

By | 2015-06-11T21:25:14+00:00 June 11th, 2015|Legal writing, Personal|0 Comments

Anchoring bias

None of us are safe from the anchoring bias. The way we reason is coloured by our experiences, our parents' experiences, where we live, what we do. And little behavioural shortcuts are hardwired into our brains—these might help us make quicker decisions, but they don’t help us make better ones. One of them is the [...]

By | 2017-05-19T08:20:32+00:00 June 7th, 2015|Did you know, Legal writing, Psychology|1 Comment

Myuran & Andrew: People can change

If you live in Australia, you would have heard that Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan—twenty-something Australians convicted of trying to smuggle heroin into Indonesia 10 years ago—were executed this morning. By firing squad, after that long in prison. They were my age. After months of dread, every time I watched the news—the way I found [...]

By | 2015-04-30T20:26:11+00:00 April 29th, 2015|Legal writing, Personal|0 Comments

Homeopathy: A recent case

You’d think it’d be pretty easy to spot what it is that a website is trying to tell you and separate the fact from the opinion. But sometimes, the point might be harder to spot than you realise. Rory’s post about exponential numbers included an aside in square brackets that used to say: Some quick [...]

By | 2017-05-19T08:20:35+00:00 April 11th, 2015|Legal writing, Uncategorised|0 Comments

But you’re a lawyer …

We have a weird relationship with lawyers. If I mention my secret law degree, I generally get one of the following: Joke about prosecuting criminals / selling my soul / ambulance chasing. (These are all very funny, by the way.) Interrogation about how to save the world The question: Why don’t you have a lawyer [...]

By | 2016-12-27T23:01:58+00:00 March 22nd, 2015|Legal writing, Personal|0 Comments

Language, law and science

I’ll be honest: I am not really a lawyer. Not the sort that’s ever wanted a practising certificate, anyway. Because, practising certificates are not exciting. What is really exciting is the idea of taking a so-called complex legal concept and writing it in a way that everyone can understand—not just lawyers and their friends. Imagine [...]

By | 2017-05-19T08:20:54+00:00 March 18th, 2015|Legal writing|0 Comments