New graduate program to help break down barriers

New graduate program to help break down barriers

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

For the first time, we will offer an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Graduate Law Program.

Commencing in 2018, the graduate program will provide law students the opportunity to learn on the job while completing their practical legal training at Leo Cussen Centre for Law.

Victoria Legal Aid has always offered opportunities for clerkships and first and second year lawyers in the New Lawyers Program to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, however the new Graduate Program is an opportunity to welcome more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law graduates to the organisation.

Meena Singh, now Associate Director Aboriginal Services, completed her articled clerkship with Victoria Legal Aid in 2003. She says the new program will help create greater representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the legal system, and not in the way we usually hear in the news.

‘By encouraging more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to study law, get admitted and then practice, we know that we can gradually break down barriers between First Nations people and the legal system,’ Meena said.

Meena says for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law graduates, taking on a practical legal training course represents either paying a significant amount of money up front, or taking on additional higher education debt.

‘We want to support these graduates to take on the opportunity to become admitted, in a supported environment, that provides a pathway into future work opportunities, hopefully at Victoria legal Aid through the New Lawyers Program, but possibly elsewhere also,’ Meena said.  

The new program will expose the graduates to legal practice and policy in a meaningful way, while complementing their studies. In return, Victoria Legal Aid will benefit from the graduates’ perspective to inform service delivery, through their experiences.

‘We hope these graduates bring fresh eyes, enthusiasm, and critical thinking, to the way we practice, and the legal system as a whole. It also represents a new relationship with Leo Cussen Institute, on the back of many years of our work together to accommodate students in their work placements.’

Meena says getting through law school can be tough on most students, but for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students, it can be particularly tough because they may be the only Indigenous person in the class, they may have had to travel away from family to study, or they might be the first person in their family going onto higher education.

‘We hope this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Graduate Law Program is a goal that law students might look forward to as a way of continuing their legal education in a genuine and supported way, and to get a taste for Victoria Legal Aid’s work in the Victorian community.’

Apply

Applications open on Friday 17 March and close on Sunday 2 April 2017. All applications must be received via the Victoria Legal Aid’s Jobs Board.

More information

For more information, contact Emma Norman, Recruitment Co-ordinator, (03) 9269 0193.