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  3. Public Interest Law Clinic

Public Interest Law Clinic (LAWS50116)

Graduate coursework level 5Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 5
Subject codeLAWS50116
Availability(Quotas apply)
Semester 1
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject provides practical experience in which students support lawyers in public interest organisations in the delivery of legal services to the community. Students will undertake 12 days of clinical placement with a partner organisation in the community or government sector. On placement, and under supervision, students will utilise the legal knowledge and skills acquired during their degree to undertake work on legal issues with real clients, and in doing so, will be exposed to the realities of legal practice. The placement will be through regular, scheduled attendances throughout semester.

Prior to commencing with their host organisation, students will participate in two days of intensive orientation to prepare for their placement, including learning new legal practice skills and about specific areas of law where relevant. This will be complemented by seminars during the placement period. In these seminars, students will reflect on their ongoing clinical experience. This combination of practical placement and academic support will allow students to consider and reflect on the broader contexts in which legal issues arise, the lawyer's role and relationship with the delivery of justice and contemporary developments in professional practice.

A central component of the subject is that students critically reflect on their practical experience of public interest lawyering. The reflection serves several purposes. First, it gives students the opportunity to consider how the issues and ideas raised in the context of public interest lawyering are reflected in their practical experience in this area of law. On an individual level, it also provides students with the opportunity to reflect on their own use of legal skills, knowledge and approach to practice and consequently build on these skills, knowledge and competencies.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who successfully completes this subject will have:

  • an enhanced practical understanding of the practical and technical skills, personal attributes and ethical awareness needed to practise effectively in the public interest sector, including in the areas of interviewing and counselling, research, advocacy, communication, file management and organisation;
  • sophisticated insight into, and ability to reflect critically and meaningfully on ethical questions that arise from practising public interest law;
  • an enhanced critical understanding of the scope, composition, capacity, limits and challenges of the legal assistance sector in Australia;
  • an understanding of the techniques of public interest lawyering and the differences between public interest lawyering and other forms of lawyering; and
  • the ability to reflect critically and meaningfully on the capacity of law and lawyers to create social, economic and political change.

Generic skills

Upon successful completion of the subject, students will have developed and demonstrated the following skills:

  • Interpersonal and communication skills to gather information, understand context, and convey legal concepts to a non-legal audience (including clients) in a way that is useful and effective;
  • Cognitive skills in understanding the significance of the interrelationship of facts and law, and an appreciation of the place for legal and non-legal responses to clients' problems;
  • Cognitive and technical skills relating to the generation and provision of legal advice and information attuned to clients' needs;
  • Skills required for effective workplace performance, such as communication, time management, and office organisation;
  • Ability to work cooperatively and professionally in a legal assistance organisation; and
  • Ability to engage in analysis and critical reflection on a range of challenging questions arising from practical legal experience in the public interest sector.

Last updated: 11 September 2019