Public Interest Law Careers Guide - Roy Reekie Testimonial
Public Interest lawyer: Roy Reekie
Organisation: Victoria Legal Aid
Speaker, Progressive law Network Legal (r)Evolution Conference 2012
To see Roy's speech and the others on the System Panel, visit the Progressive Law Network website.
Short biography: Roy Reekie is a lawyer, community development practitioner and community activist. Roy grew up in coastal country Victoria. He studied Arts/Law at Monash University, growing up some more there. His legal career began in country Victoria (again), for his articles year plus one more. Roy then returned to Monash University as a teacher in the Professional Practice program and a supervisor/practice manager at Springvale Legal Service. This commenced more than a decade of poverty law practice in community legal centres. A tilt at a political windmill led Roy to leave legal practice behind for community management, community development project work and consultancy, in Australia and Glasgow, Scotland. He really did some growing up there. He now works as a development officer in Victoria Legal Aid's Community Legal Centre Funding Program. He's still learning and growing up.
Law: Where did you start and how did you get where you are today?
My legal career began as a Prof Prac student at Monash Oakleigh Legal Service (Clinical Legal Education) to learn to learn more about professional practice units available to university students). I did two years, including articles in private practice, then returned to the ProfPrac program at Monash as a lecturer, tutor and legal supervisor at Springvale Monash Legal Service. I spent seven years there and then seven setting up and running a Community Legal Centre in country Victoria. I left the practical profession in 1999 to return in the CLC funding program at Victoria Legal Aid.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced during your careers?
Burnout - in the face of limitations imposed by a strict and hierarchical legal system. Isolation - especially in a rural setting, but also being a relatively inexperienced practitioner while also being the most senior lawyer in a busy, complex legal practice.
What advice do you have for lawyers and law students wishing to pursue careers paths focusing on positive social change?
Be willing to move - places, firms, setting, career paths - find the fit for you.
Embrace change - for yourself, for your client, for your community, for the system.
Retain an enquiring mind and challenging attitude.
Respect the client's right to retain control of decisions - work with them, not for them.