Read about the success of Monash Law's alumni community through our experiential learning program.
The Monash Faculty of Law Prize for the Best Honours Student | 2016
I spent nearly half of my electives in the law school’s clinical program, at Springvale Monash Legal Service, in the student advocacy program at Dandenong Magistrate’s Court and in the Family Violence Clinic. Through these experiences, I have seen that so many people in our community continue to suffer under incredible disadvantage, extreme hardship, and are locked out of justice, fairness, and equal opportunity in life.
I’ve learned that having a legal education puts us in a privileged position: of knowing and understanding the language that governs our institutions, our community, and our daily life. And to the extent that we have that knowledge, we also have a toolkit that is capable of making a difference - even a modest difference - to those who don't have that same privilege, and who need it most.
Through the clinical program, I’ve also seen that people may be deprived of justice because the system or the law itself fails them. I’ve had to confront the fact that our laws are not inherently good - when lawmaking power, authority or discretion is not exercised justly, fairly or in good faith, our laws can become a tool of oppression.
With the tools that a legal education provides, I’ve learned that we are uniquely positioned to identify these wrongs and to advocate for change and reform where it is necessary to do justice. But most importantly, from my time at Monash I have come to believe that because we’ve had the opportunity to receive a world-class legal education, we also have an obligation to do so - to use it for good.
[Monash University’s clinical legal education] … has been a highlight of my studies at Monash Law School. The practical skills I have obtained are invaluable. I have gained experience in a wide variety of areas, from conducting client interviews to running my own files and even appearing in Court on behalf of clients. This type of experience cannot be taught in the classroom!
The experience I have gained, combined with the support and guidance I have received from both the staff and fellow students at Monash Oakleigh Legal Services, has reinforced my passion and determination to practise law. Completing the Professional Practice unit has also enabled me to apply for an advanced practical unit- the Clinical Externship. Next trimester I will be joining the Family Violence Clinic at Springvale Monash Legal Service, assisting the Duty Lawyer at Dandenong Magistrates' Court.
“Professional Practice … was the best thing I’ve done in my law degree so far.
“The experience above all was rewarding. It was the first time I applied what I learned in clients, communicating clearly and managing client expectations class in a real setting and it sparked my interest in advocacy.
“I gained valuable legal administrative skills and became more confident meeting with clients, communicating clearly and managing client expectations.
“My supervisor, Janine Hill-Buxton was fantastic … she knew the court system really well and was always approachable and open to questions. You could really pick her brains and learn from her experiences.
“Under her supervision, I represented my clients in court on many occasions. Janine equipped us with the skills we needed and gave us her trust.”
Benjamin Drinkwater is currently actively pursuing his goal of becoming a Barrister.
“My placement at Springvale Monash Legal Services was my first experience actually engaging with the law and it made me realise how crucial access to justice and quality legal advice can be to clients’ lives.
“As part of Professional Practice, I made appearances in court on behalf of clients. I was working with people in difficult situations and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity and skills to make a difference in their lives.
“During both my international internship and professional placement, I have worked with many clients on diverse and interesting cases. I would highly recommend these programs to all students who have the chance.”
Master of Laws (Juris Doctor)
I got the opportunity to enhance my practical legal skills through studying Professional Practice. When participating this clinical legal education program, I am able to handle real-life legal problems under the supervision of a qualified legal practitioner. I believe that the guidance I received and the experience I accumulated in the process will place me in a better position in the competitive job market.