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Street Law is an innovative subject that involves JD students visiting diverse secondary schools and public interest organisations in Melbourne for the purpose of delivering community legal education sessions on legal topics of interest and relevance to young people. Street Law provides a unique opportunity for students to develop their technical and communication skills, while at the same time contributing to the community through the delivery of legal lessons to an audience that may not usually have strong avenues of access to legal education or the legal profession. The subject provides students with the opportunity to contribute to the intellectual and social development of students from high schools in diverse areas and with diverse student cohorts. Street Law students gain experience in implementing community legal education and become part of the worldwide phenomenon of Street Law. Community legal education is an increasingly important aspect of the work of lawyers in many parts of the profession, particularly the community legal sector.
Students undertaking Street Law will develop and implement fundamental skills to develop and deliver community legal education. The program will build communication skills, including the ability to explain complex legal concepts and information to a non–legal audience, enhancing confidence in public speaking. Students will consolidate skills in legal analysis and statutory interpretation. Students will also develop interpersonal skills, the ability to work autonomously and as a member of a group committed to high quality legal education, and the ability to think on one’s feet. These skills are essential for working in any legal profession.
Participation in Street Law allows students to develop a thorough understanding of the legal topics they will teach to young people, based on materials supplied by Melbourne Law School. Specific topics to be covered will change from year to year and may include broad topics (such as human rights frameworks) and/or topics of specific practical relevance to high school students (such as rights and responsibilities on public transport). Students will liaise with the subject lecturer, their mentor teachers at schools and public interest organisation supervisors to identify the most suitable teaching methods and content for the context and needs of their school and organisation. Students then visit schools and organisations to deliver the legal content in a clear and accessible manner in presentations to young people of diverse academic abilities and backgrounds.
Students enrolled in this subject will receive instruction in relevant substantive areas from law school faculty and practitioners as well as specialist training in lesson planning and delivery from graduates of the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education. Students will also have the opportunity to develop new materials which may either be used by individual schools, partner organisations, and/or in the Street Law program at MLS in future years.
 Pinder, K, ‘Street Law: Twenty Five Years and Counting’ (1998) 27 Journal of Law and Education 211 at 226, 230-31.
 Katz, B, ‘Practical Law 101’ (2001-2002) 30 Student Lawyer 24 at 26.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed Street Law will:
- Have specialised knowledge of at least three substantive areas of law relevant to young people;
- Understand and have the ability to critically assess theories of teaching and lesson delivery;
- Have a nuanced understanding of some of the challenges faced by young people in the Australian legal system;
- Have a practical understanding of the challenges involved in effectively communicating complex legal concepts and ideas to a non-specialist audience; and
- Have a deeper understanding of the importance of legal literacy.
Students who successfully complete the Street Law program will have developed and demonstrated:
- sophisticated skills in oral communication, and an advanced ability to observe, evaluate, interpret and transmit an analysis of a discrete legal issue to a non-law audience;
- an ability to identify the requirements of a specific audience and tailor a presentation so as to deliver an effective and accessible lesson in a specific area of law;
- an advanced capacity for critical and independent thought and reflection, in particular to reflect critically on the relevance of specialised areas of law for young people in Victoria;
- advancement of the discipline of legal teaching theory and practice by integrating theoretical knowledge with practical experience in lesson delivery; and
- the ability to learn from encountering different perspectives, and to recognise the extent to which students’ own beliefs, values and experiences inform their understanding of the purpose and relevance of public legal education and legal literacy.
Last updated: 25 July 2020