Special issue


In 2017, the School of Law at the University of Wollongong commenced an experimental initiative through the introduction of a Law Student Pledge. It was designed as a symbolic statement to students that from the day they begin their law studies they become a member of the legal professional community. In this way, it invited First Year Students to commit to core values, attitudes and practices seen as important to developing a positive professional identity. This article reports on learnings following the implementation of the Pledge over 3 iterations and reflects upon its impact on shaping students’ sense of belonging. As an empirical project, this research incorporates both the student voice as well as the academic perspective, via the methodology of reflective practice. The research will consider whether the Pledge provided an opportunity for students to engage in a community of shared identity or became a perceived ‘imposed’ requirement to belong.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Creating a sense of belonging is important for students, particularly during transition/first year.
  2. Reflections on the use of a Law Student Pledge (‘the Pledge) as a tool to foster a sense of belonging.
  3. The introduction of a Law Student Pledge invoked a range of responses from students and staff. Reflective practice led to multiple iterations and improvements implemented.
  4. Aspects of the Pledge that focussed on well-being were most positively received by students.
  5. The Pledge may have some utility in maintaining student connection and sense of belonging in a remote learning context.