Imagine your whole life has led to this moment. Since high school you knew what you wanted to be and you’re finally here – day one of your life as a qualified lawyer. Your stiffly pressed shirt smells of starch and not a hair is out of place. But deep down, the butterflies can’t be settled; your clammy hands can barely grip the rail of the courthouse steps and the sick fear of the unknown takes over.

It’s your first day in court, but something is missing. It’s the crucial practice you needed to become fluent and confident in presenting a client’s case – in an environment where you could make mistakes and learn, rather than be judged on them, literally!

Don't get caught unprepared in court.

It all starts with mooting

Mooting is the closest experience that you can have to appearing in court while still at uni. Think simulation hospitals for nursing students, or on-campus labs for future scientists – that’s how mooting works. In a law degree, mooting gives you a taste for the ‘real life’ of a lawyer without the risk that someone will end up with a criminal record – or worse.

Recently, VU Law students won big at the most prestigious mooting competition in the world. And it doesn’t end there – mooting is something that VU has done particularly well for a very long time.

Get practical

Together with mooting, getting out into the real (sometimes scary) world is critical for up-and-coming lawyers – to win cases and confidently represent their clients.

Practical placements should form a huge part of an education in the law. VU's unique clinical legal education programs prepare students for professional practice, reflecting the work you will do in your future career. Placements give you real cases and real clients including WEstjustice, Victoria Legal Aid, Victoria Police, Young Workers Victoria, and County and Supreme Courts.

Recent graduate Amanda McDermott – who won the Supreme Court Prize – credits VU’s practical placements with her confidence and in helping choose her career focus:

“The placements at VU were invaluable. My internship with Victoria Police Prosecution division gave me insight into the workings of successful prosecution and court processes, and confirmed my interest in criminal law.
I also completed an internship at WEstjustice as case manager at the family law and family violence clinic. It was challenging but so rewarding.”

Supreme Court Prize-winner Amanda McDermott values the practical experience she gained at VU.

The secret formula

Take note – the following is one of the most important revelations you will learn:

It doesn’t matter what school you went to, who your parents are, or even the football team you barrack for. Your practical experience is your most attractive feature to employers.

But how can someone fresh out of uni have this kind of experience? Neil Andrews, Principal Lawyer for Slater and Gordon, says he considers practical placements as key selection criteria when hiring, and the key to becoming a successful lawyer.

“Law graduates today need hands-on experience, and employers are looking for that more and more. These skills can’t be learnt in theory – you need the real industry experience found in Law programs like those offered at VU.”

It’s time to rethink that ‘first day’ lawyer moment

Your shirt smells of starch and your hair can only be described as impeccable. As you walk the steps of that court house two at a time, the butterflies of excitement cause you to take a deep breath, exhale heavily and say, ‘I got this’.

 

Writer:  Jessica Jury