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This subject provides a practical, clinical experience in which students provide legal support and information to starting-out social and community enterprises which intend to contribute to community or environmental wellbeing but which do not have the current capacity to pay for specialised legal assistance.
Students will undertake 12 days of clinical work based at Melbourne Law School under the guidance and mentorship of the subject co-ordinator and lawyers with broad expertise in the relevant laws (including: climate and energy law; local government, environment and planning law; tort law; property law; employment and workplace health and safety law, and general corporate, transactional and business law). Students will use and refine the legal knowledge and skills acquired during their degree to undertake work on real legal issues and provide meaningful assistance to real clients, and in doing so, will be exposed to the realities of legal practice.
Within the 12 days of clinical work students will participate in timetabled classes, in which areas of potential reform of the law to improve the prospect of emerging sustainable solutions to social and environmental problems will be discussed. Students will also take part in debrief sessions where students will evaluate their progress, discuss their perceptions of the law in practice, and reflect on the role of the law and their place in it.
During timetabled classes, time will be also allocated to discuss and analyse the law relevant to client problems, with some direction on skills and legal practice as appropriate. Skills and doctrinal learning will also be undertaken during clinical work time.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who successfully completes this subject will have a sophisticated insight into, and be able to analyse and reflect critically and meaningfully on:
- The practical, interpersonal and technical skills and ethical awareness needed for effective legal practice, including in the areas of collaborative work, research, advice, communication, file management and organisation;
- their capacity for learning from experience, their resilience and their growth in self-confidence and good judgment;
- the effectiveness of the laws in Australia for achieving environmental and social change, and for confronting environmental and social problems;
- the breadth of laws that affect new and innovating community and environmentally-minded enterprises;
- the availability and appropriate use of legal processes and different areas of law to client problems;
- the capacity and role of law and lawyers to create social, environmental and political change; and
- The multi-disciplinary approaches to client dilemmas - including recognition of the non-legal aspects of client problems and the ethical responsibilities of legal practitioners in advising across these non-legal aspects.
Upon successful completion of the subject, students will have developed and demonstrated the following skills:
- Thinking skills, including the ability to gather information, understand interests and context, apply knowledge and present complex legal concepts to a non-legal audience (including clients) in a way that is useful and effective;
- Applied research skills, including the ability to identify, research, evaluate and synthesis relevant factual, legal and policy issues in the context of a complex and emerging area of law;
- Legal practice skills, including an understanding and experience in ethical decision-making and the role and capacity of lawyers to serve the community, and cognitive and technical skills relating to the generation and generation and presentation of legal information attuned to client needs;
- Personal and professional skills, including learning autonomously, being accountable for one's work, self-reflection on performance and ethical professional conduct and development;
- Skills required for effective workplace performance, such as clear communication, time management, co-worker collaboration and office organisation; and
- Research and reflection skills, including the ability to engage in high-level analysis and critical reflection, and to develop and articulate legal reform ideas for social and environmental change based on theoretical and empirical knowledge of the operation of the law.
Last updated: 11 February 2021