Public Interest Law Careers Guide - Jill Prior Testimonial

jill prior

Public Interest lawyer: Jill Prior

Organisation: Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service

Speaker, Progressive Law Network Legal (r)Evolution Conference 2011

To see Jill’s speech and the others on the Indigenous Legal (r)Evolution panel, visit the Progressive Law Network website.

Jill Prior is the Principal Legal Officer at VALS.

Law: Where did you start?

I started an Arts Degree at Monash University and then took time off.  I returned to study at La Trobe University and completed a Bachelor of Arts before going on to complete a graduate degree in Law.  I then completed my practical training at Leo Cussen Institute and have worked at VALS since.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced during your career?

There have been numerous challenges but none as great as those facing our clients.  The real art is in trying to have people appreciate the great disadvantage faced by our clients and the significant hardship and trauma that affects their lives.

What advice do you have for lawyers and law students wishing to pursue careers paths focusing on positive social change?

Think about why you studied law.  Do not be complacent and make the decision to stand in the places where you are challenged to make a difference.  Do not be afraid to stomp your foot and be heard on issues that matter. Without these voices, those without capacity to be heard will continue to suffer.

Do you have any advice for law reformists starting out?

Listen to the people you are asked to represent.  Listen to the quietest and most disadvantaged voices and don’t be afraid.  Also – seek support from those around you as it is tough.

Do you have any advice for law reformists who have been in the game for a while?

As my father would say, “Don’t let the bastards wear you down”.

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