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La Trobe Law Clinic opens in Whittlesea

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La Trobe Law School officially launched the La Trobe Law Clinic last month – a collaboration between La Trobe University and Whittlesea Communications, WWC, as part of WCC’s new Social Justice Project.

La Trobe Law School dean professor Fiona Kelly welcomed Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs and Member for Scullin Andrew Giles, who launched the clinic.

Mr Giles said the clinic was an important initiative that gave students the opportunity to receive the practical training they needed for the legal sector.

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“This will give these students a practical edge in the future, but more importantly also provides an essential community service, giving people access to legal services which they may otherwise be unable to access in my electorate,” he said.

The clinic started operating in July last year and will offer placements to 200 La Trobe law, criminology, social work, and information technology students, allowing law students to put their knowledge in action while providing free access to legal services to those in need.

At the clinic, students work in teams of two to provide legal services across five areas of law – wills and wishes, elder abuse, senior legal support, fine and civil actions, and family violence – with their work supervised by an in-house lawyer.

In the first six months of the clinic’s operation, 58 vulnerable women have been assisted through the Family Violence Clinic.

Clinical placements are not a requirement of law school education in Victoria, but the demand for experiential learning is high among students and often expected by employers.

Professor Kelly said providing a range of clinical opportunities to students ensured La Trobe graduates set foot in the job market with strong practical legal skills.

“Entering the employment market with practical experience is becoming increasingly important to securing a graduate law position,” she said.

“It also builds a culture of service, where students provide much-needed legal services to community members who may not otherwise be able to afford a lawyer.

“The La Trobe Law Clinic gives students the opportunity to apply their legal knowledge and interact directly with clients, building a skill set needed for legal practice.

“As the outer northern suburbs continue their rapid expansion, the demand for free legal services is growing. Through the clinic, our students help alleviate the access to justice issues that plague the legal system in Victoria, filling a gap in the legal services market.”

La Trobe law student Ronan De Nardis said working at the law clinic allowed him to manage his own clients in a supportive environment, helping him develop a sense of teamwork, communication, and file management skills.

“The clinic allowed me to develop confidence by providing opportunities to take initiative and challenge myself,” he said.

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