Leo Cussen Centre for Law attract students from a diverse background who want to continue learning in a formalised environment, join an extensive legal network and be part of a professional community.  Often our wonderful alumni refer the next generation of students to us to begin their legal professional journey.

In this series, we’ll introduce you to some of our inspiring alumni.


Meet Dr Athula Pathinayake, Principal, Sri Lanka Law College.

After completing Practical Legal Training at Leo Cussen and working for some years in Australia, Dr Athula Pathinayake, returned to Sri Lanka, later being appointed the Principal of the Law College in Sri Lanka. And we are so pleased that his son Sanjeeva is now also undertaking Leo Cussen’s Practical Legal Training.


When Thoughts Become Things 

Dr Pathinayake chose a career in law after discovering his passion for the profession upon completing high school. He explained that he had an inclination for the way the law works and his career path to law was almost ‘a calling’.  He grew eager to join the Attorney General’s department in Sri Lanka.

As fate would have it, Dr Pathinayake was at the Attorney General’s Department for 10 years before arriving in Australia to complete his Masters degree.  He was appointed  as Executive Director of the Centre on the Legal Profession at Deakin Law School sealed the deal of his love of legal education.  He implemented Deakin Law Clinics in 2017 using similar conceptual methods to the Leo Cussen Practical Legal Training, but with real clients.


A Passion for Educating Lawyers 

Dr Pathinayake developed a passion for legal education and a desire to help Sri Lankans in this area. The Sri Lanka Law College is the only one of its kind in the country and with Dr Pathinayake’s experience in Australia, he has been able to improve the quality of the profession in Sri Lanka.

Looking back on his time at Leo Cussen, Dr Pathinayake expresses that the practical training was great – putting the theory into practice was most useful and even though he had worked as a lawyer previously in Sri Lanka, he felt that he learned so much more than he had expected to while undertaking PLT. From opening a file and conducting client interviews, through to the completion of a case, he thoroughly enjoyed his experience.


Like Father like Son 

We asked Dr Pathinayake what advice he would he give a law graduate? He reminds us that his own son is currently undertaking PLT at Leo Cussen and tells us what he advised him: “What you have studied previously in law school is important, but the practical side is what really matters”.

He suggests that law grads give a serious commitment to do the practical legal training as it helps so much in their future legal work. He describes Leo Cussen’s PLT as “a bridge between Law School and the profession” and his advice for being the whole lawyer? “Don’t just be a book worm, enjoy life outside of your profession such as charity work, sport – forming connections outside of the profession can also help with networking which is so important”.


The Future of Law 

Dr Pathinayake’s hope for the future is that law schools concentrate more on alternative dispute resolution as well as artificial intelligence; “If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us it’s that we can adapt to technology and have an amicable relationship with AI”.


The Next Generation 

We interviewed Dr Pathinayake’s son, Sanjeeva. He is part of the next generation of lawyers passing through from law school, to “lawyer school” (PLT) and into a career in the legal profession. You can read more about Sanjeeva’s experience doing the Practical Legal Training Course while working full time here.


We are grateful to Dr Pathinayake and to Sanjeeva for their time in sharing their story with us. They’re part of our rich alumni history inspiring their peers and future lawyers with their valuable contribution to the legal industry.