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Pro Bono Day: pro clients, pro students ... and pro jobs

Pro Bono Day has a special meaning for former Victoria University law student Cansu Sanli. Her pro bono legal assistance to clients of the Sunshine Youth Legal Centre (SYLC) helped her secure a job with a law firm.

Ms Sanli was among the first batch of VU law students who participated in the SYLC program last year. "My team members and I helped to set up the framework of the centre," she explained.

 "It was an incredible experience. It allowed me not only to build on my interpersonal skills but also introduced me to serious community issues and concerns surrounding the Brimbank community."

Law students from Victoria University continue to work with the Sunshine Youth Legal Centre, and their efforts are being celebrated as part of Pro Bono Day on May 15.

This year 10 VU law students are working two to three days a week at the centre over 19 weeks undertaking the following tasks:

  • Interviewing clients and witnesses
  • Taking instructions
  • Researching law and legal procedure
  • Providing advice and assistance
  • Liaising and negotiating with opposite and third parties, such as government agencies, insurance companies, lawyers, police informants, prosecutors and court staff
  • Drafting letters, litigation papers, briefs and other legal documents
  • Referring clients with non-legal matters to appropriate agencies

 Program co-ordinator law lecturer Abdul Rahman Mohamed Saleh said the placements provide students with hands-on experience in handling legal cases.

"Each student is responsible for a portfolio of cases. He or she gathers the relevant facts and consults the supervisor, who is a qualified lawyer of many years' experience, before taking any action or providing any advice.

"Cases that require court attendance are referred to Victoria Legal Aid or private lawyers. In appropriate cases the student works with the lawyer handling the matter and attends court. 

"Students benefit from the experience of day-to-day handling of legal matters. They also gain academic credit for their placement in the program."

Supervising lawyer of the centre Judith Dredge said the program was beneficial to all those involved.

"It is amazing to see the benefits the students reaped from their placement", Ms Dredge said.

"The nature of the work also enhanced the students' legal research skills; not only did they have to learn to research quickly and efficiently, they also had to learn to research differently as looking up 'practical law' is very different from researching substantive law which is what they were used to in law school."

For further information contact Abdul Rahman Mohamed Saleh on 9919 1803.

Media contact: Jim Buckell, A/Senior Media Officer

Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University

Ph: (03) 9919 4243; mobile: 0400 465 459; email: jim.buckell@vu.edu.au

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