‘I just loved it,’ long-standing law lecturer retires

‘I just loved it,’ long-standing law lecturer retires

UOW's Margaret Bond reflects on rewarding career

In the early 1990s, Margaret Bond exchanged power suits and a prestigious job as a solicitor at an international commercial law firm for an academic position at the University of Wollongong (UOW).

On the eve of her retirement, Ms Bond has been reflecting fondly upon that decision. It led to a rewarding career as a law lecturer spanning nearly three decades.

“When I started teaching down here in 1993 I just loved it,” Ms Bond said.

“You know when you’ve found what you should do. Teaching law has been my passion.

“It was a great experience to work for one of the big law firms, but I felt like I was play-acting most of the time. I put on the power suits, we had the padded shoulders back then; I had a great wardrobe.

“It was fantastic in terms of legal practice, you had all the resources at your fingertips.  However, it was a strange life only representing the top end of town.  It wasn’t really where my heart was.”

In her classes she tried to ensure there was never a dull moment. The vivacious Contract Law, Remedies and Civil Procedure teacher did everything in her power to bring the law to life.

“Students contemplating the study of law will often express some reservations, saying the law may be a bit dry for them, with lots of dusty old cases to read,” Ms Bond said. “But the law is dynamic and responsive. Cases aren’t dead things, they are people’s stories, a window into real people’s lives. They show you the legal muddles that people get themselves into and you see how the law applied to resolve their disputes. Cases also help you to work out how to avoid similar problems arising in the future.” 

Understanding the value of strong social networks at university and in the profession, Ms Bond was a key member of the team that introduced an integrated program for first-year law students, helping them to better transition from school to university. As part of the program, the School of Law divides the cohort into small groups of less than 25 students, who attend all their seminars together for the first session of their first year. It’s one of her proudest legacies.

“It gives them that immediate network, they form much closer bonds,” Ms Bond said.

As a member of the First Year Integration Team, her passion and commitment to teaching was recognised by the Vice-Chancellor’s Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning Award in 2013 and a Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning by the Australian Office for Learning and Teaching in 2015.

With great interest she has watched many of her past students flourish in their chosen careers. They’re working locally and across the globe in diverse areas of the law.

“I’ve been here a long time and kept in touch with students going right back to the early days, it’s wonderful to see where things have gone for them,” Ms Bond said.

A few years ago, a health scare prompted a change in perspective and eventually, her decision to retire.

“It made me realise you have to take advantage of your good health,” Ms Bond said.

She’s leaving behind a fulfilling career.

“More than anything it’s hard to leave the students,” Ms Bond said.

“The students keep you on your toes and feeling young.”

Then there are times where she’s reminded she may not be quite as young as she feels.

“I’ve started to teach my students’ children. That’s when you do start to worry,” Ms Bond said, smiling.

News of her retirement instigated a wave of emails and messages from former students, reaching out, and thanking her for the guidance and support over the course of their studies and beyond.

“That’s been lovely,” Ms Bond said, eyes welling with tears.

Dean of Law Professor Colin Picker hosted a farewell party for Ms Bond at UOW on Wednesday, 17 July, to recognise her significant influence on the success of graduates since 1993.

It was attended by friends and past and present students and colleagues.

The warm and supportive teacher and colleague will be dearly missed at UOW.

“She is such a kind person, so caring and tolerant, she has a wide range of friendships,” fellow UOW senior law lecturer Tom Musgrave said.

“She’s one of my closest friends, I’m really going to miss her; everyone here is going to miss her.”

To honour Ms Bond, the School of Law is seeking to establish a student grant in her name, The Margaret Bond Student Development Grant. The grant will provide funding to Law Students to develop and implement a project to enhance the student experience. Students, staff, alumni and community members who have benefited from Ms Bond’s teaching and support are invited to donate to this grant via the UOW Giving website.