Open Justice Project

Open Justice: The Monash University and Victorian Bar Pro Bono Project (the Open Justice Project), is a collaboration between the Victorian Bar and the Monash Faculty of Law (the Faculty) that allows later year undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Faculty to assist barristers at the Victorian Bar in pro bono matters. The Patron of the Open Justice Project is the Hon Chris Maxwell, President of the Court of Appeal.

Under the program, students apply to be on a panel of students to provide barristers with assistance on matters that are referred to barristers by Justice Connect, by one of a number of Court pro bono referral partners, or by other direct request for pro bono assistance.

A panel of 12 students will be selected (the Panel). During the pilot program, the expectation will be that students on the panel will be able to make a commitment for 3 months (till 30 Nov 2021) during the pilot program, and for 6 months for subsequent programs. The Panel will go through an induction morning with contributions from members of the Victorian Bar and Monash Law. Barristers who have pro bono work will complete a briefing form indicating the timeframe and nature of work required. This may be for an intensive period (eg 3 full days) or for an extended period (eg 1 day/week for 4 weeks), depending on the nature of the matter. The Panel will be given access to a dedicated Open Justice email address.

Notification that a brief is available will be sent to students via email, and they can then access the dedicated email to review the brief. Students who are able to commit to the timeframe, will respond to the brief outlining their suitability for the matter. The Open Justice Convenor will then assign the matter to a student and introduce the Barrister. The Student will then work with the Barrister until completion of the matter.

Students may assist with two different kinds of work

  • piece-meal and sporadic work required immediately for a specific proceeding or advice, which requires an immediate (and perhaps intense) short term commitment; or
  • long-term projects where the required commitment is longer, but of a lesser immediacy and lower intensity. For these projects, a reasonable time commitment will be agreed in advance between the barrister and the student (subject to the student’s academic commitments and the 80-hour maximum). On application to the Monash Convenor, a barrister may request assistance from more than one student on a large or ongoing matter. Specific student duties may include:

- legal research, including preparing case summaries and research memoranda;

- assisting with simple drafting (eg, advices, submissions, court documents);

- attending court, chambers, client conferences or other locations as required;

- assisting with taking client instructions and preparing evidence;

- preparing chronologies and summaries of evidence; or

- other tasks, such as taking notes in court.

Students will be required to commit to be on the panel for a minimum period of 3 months for the pilot program, and six months for subsequent programs. The time commitment for an individual student will not exceed 80 hours per matter. Note that this is a voluntary scheme. Students receive no academic credit or financial payment for participating, but will gain the benefit of valuable professional experience and help enhance access to justice for members of our community.

For more information, read the Student Application Information document here.