ALSA has its origins in the early 1970s. At that time it consisted of informal meetings of various Australian Law Student Society presidents. As word spread, these meetings grew and there was a perceived need to formalise a national structure.
The presidents decided that a formal national structure would be an ideal opportunity to pit their best mooters against each other, so the Annual Conference was initiated in this very basic form. The first competition was held in Melbourne in the mid-1970s. Shortly afterwards, the New Zealand Law Student Societies were invited to participate within this national framework.
In 1978, the name ‘ALSA' was given to the structure and Law Student Societies from the South East Asian region were invited to become part of the association. In 1979 the annual mooting competition and presidents' meeting was expanded to include social functions and law students from involved universities were invited to attend. This annual gathering became known as the Annual Conference.
ALSA underwent many changes from the early to the mid-1980s. In 1986 ALSA became an incorporated association, registered in Victoria. The late 1980s and early 1990s represented great change in the Australian higher education system. As a consequence of these reforms many new law schools were born within Australia leading to a rapid increase in the number of member universities affiliated to ALSA. The greater numbers saw an increased demand for ALSA's services and gave rise to a great number of issues concerning legal education and professional admission.
Since the 1990s, ALSA has taken the lead in representing law students' interests in debates about higher education, admission and legal practice. ALSA has also greatly expanded its publishing services, including producing an Academic Journal, an International Careers Guide, a Judges Associates Guide, a Global Scholarships Guide, a biannual magazine and an LSS Wiki Manual. The Australian Legal Education Forum was established in 1998, which has since been rebranded as Speakers’ Forums.
2007-8 was a year of consolidation for ALSA in which a strategic vision was drafted to guide the organisation in the decades to come. This Plan sets out a ten-year vision and the strategies and steps proposed for the next five years to reinvigorate ALSA as an organisation, improve the services that we offer and cement our position as the peak representative body advocating on behalf of all Australian Law Students to both government and non-government bodies. The Strategic Plan focuses on building on our foundations to pursue the aims of:
- Ensuring the sustainability of the organisation;
- Improving the relevance of ALSA as a national body;
- Ensuring greater communication with and between ALSA Executive, Committee, Council, Member Associations and other stakeholders;
- Improving our position as a national lobbyist for law students interests; and
- Expansion and growth of the organisation's scope into the future.
2010-2011 is an exciting year for ALSA. As well as committing to improving each of the three aspects of ALSA’s activities listed above, the ALSA Executive and Committee are dedicated to achieving four common aims for our term:
- Improving ALSA’s effectiveness on issues of national significance;
- Supporting younger and regional LSSs in tackling the unique issues they face;
- Advancing communication and collaboration between ALSA, LSSs and law students and enhancing the productivity of ALSA Council; and
- Working collaboratively with national student law associations abroad.