More Pro Bono Scope for Law Students
Tuesday, 28th September 2004 at 1:09 pm
There appears to be plenty of scope for many law schools in Australia to expand their existing pro bono work for law students according to the National Pro Bono Resource Centre.
The Centre recently commissioned a study through the social justice interns from the University of NSW.
The study found that there is a significant amount of diversity and innovation in organised pro bono activity taking place within Australian law schools.
At 16 of the 28 law schools (57%), pro bono or other volunteering activities for students are organised or facilitated either through the law school faculty or law student society/association. Clinical legal education programs are available at 23 of the 28 law schools (82%).
However it found that some law schools appear to be providing students with little or no access to any type of organised pro bono activity or clinical education program. These schools tend to be the more recently established ones.
It found that most of the pro bono and clinical education programs are run in conjunction or partnership with local community legal centres (CLCs). A small number were established and are now run by a university law school. There are also isolated examples of programs run in association with Legal Aid commissions, the courts, another university, and in one instance, directly with a law firm.
The study says there would seem to be scope for all of these bodies to have greater involvement with clinical legal education and student pro bono programs.
The Centre believes that pro bono and clinical legal education programs should both exist in all law schools in Australia so as to provide a proper legal education for students. It says is important that they be managed as complementary activities, occurring in close co-operation with each other.
A number of objectives for why law students should be encouraged to undertake pro bono work can be suggested.
– To develop and nurture a commitment in law students to practice law in a way that promotes justice and fairness for all, particularly the poor and disadvantaged members of society.
– To provide legal services that benefit poor and disadvantaged members of society.
– To introduce law students to the workings of the legal profession and to meet, observe and work with practising lawyers involved in public interest work.
– To assist students to develop interpersonal skills in a professional environment.
– To provide students with training and practical experience in research, writing and advocacy in a legal environment.
– For pro bono projects that are run by the students themselves, the student directors of these programs learn through experience some important lawyer competencies related to developing a law practice and managing a law office.
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