NGOs and Legal start-ups

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

NGOs, that is non-profit and citizen-based groups, focus on ameliorating social issues and engaging in community advocacy. NGOs can operate both locally and internationally, contributing to policy development and partnering with different groups to create long-term change. NGOs can enhance information sharing and facilitate social projects too.

Law students who have an interest in this area are advised to;

  • Research and apply for student-based internships/virtual internships at NGOs (either through a formal internship program or volunteering individually);
  • Consider networking with directors/staff at NGOs for further career advice;
  • Consider working pro-bono for an NGO as a graduate (this could lead to either a full-time or part-time role/position at the NGO down the track);
  • Think about collaborating with other like-minded students and develop your own NGO!
  • Sign up to their weekly/fortnightly newsletter to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the area.

Legal start-ups

As the digital revolution continues, there has been a strong grassroots movement of entrepreneurs and start-ups which aim to develop innovative solutions to legal problems through the use of technology. Legal technology (or ‘legal tech’) refers to the innovative use of technology to provide or support services in the legal industry. For example, technology can be used to conduct in-house data analytics, AI chatbots and online platforms can improve access to legal advice, law firms can use file-sharing software to facilitate eDiscovery — the possibilities are growing and endless.

How can students, graduates and lawyers engage with legal tech?

It is unlikely that the work of a lawyer will ever be replaced by legal tech, since lawyers must perform tasks which require strategy and interpersonal skills. However, students, graduates and lawyers must begin to participate differently with an evolving legal industry in order to address modern problems and meet client’s expectations.

  • Be prepared to learn about and participate in an agile legal industry;
  • Attend hackathons, incubators, seminars and demonstrations;
  • Learn about emerging software developments and innovations in technology;
  • Stay aware of the benefits and risks of new technologies;
  • Conduct private research about current legal start-ups;
  • Consider networking with various entrepreneurs and ask them about their career journey;
  • Be aware of the gaps in the current legal market and if a product or service could potentially remedy this issue;
  • Enrol in any legal tech or practical placement unit to apply individual skills in a ‘real-world situation’;
  • Get hands-on experience in the legal tech industry by volunteering at a law firm or organisation that adopts these new processes.