Having done my first year of law, at another university, I have enjoyed the environment that ACU has offered me. I feel the relationship that I have with my lecturers is something that I have not seen or experienced elsewhere. You can even drop in to see the Dean.
ACU has a good blend of academics and practitioners as lecturers. In one subject you may get one of the Professors, who have extensively written and published in their chosen field of law, the next you will get a Queens Counsel/Senior Counsel taking a unit, who have argued some of the leading cases on the area. The cases that you learn about in the unit that they teach.
I was unhappy with the environment of the university I was at. The area of law that they focused their degree on was not an area I wanted to practice in. ACU offers a degree that has a focus on compassion and human rights. This focus has a greater emphasis on criminal law, human rights law and various other areas which, you could say, are more compassionate.
My Pro Bono work has seen me at AED Legal Centre, working in employment and discrimination law. Representing disabled clients who have been subjected to unfair treatment in the workplace, at school or university, and other areas. I started there in 2013, and I am still there. I have been able to conduct countless client interviews, draft court documents, brief counsel, assist in matters that lead to trial and on appeal. It has been a very hands-on experience.
At the start of 2016, I started a placement at Victoria Legal Aid. This was in their migration law department. Helping refugees with their applications, or reviewing their applications if they were refused. It was a good learning experience in administrative law, so I felt that I had a better understanding of the unit when I came to studying it in first semester 2017.
I also did a 6-month placement at the Young Workers’ Centre. As their first intake, we got to help in establishing the centre. As the name suggests, we represented young workers in their employment issues. From unfair dismissal, harassment, to underpayments and issues with their apprenticeships.
It meant working closely with the clients. I would have conducted at least two client interviews a week. Which was a fantastic experience. One highlight was an underpayment case which ended up highlighting systematic underpayment through the organisation. Because the case became so big, a leading social justice law firm took the case on for us.
ACU has a marvellous mooting culture. A moot is a mock appeal. Akin to something that you would see in an Appeals Court. We have multiple internal moots, where students can compete against each other. Myself, and my moot partner, Ellen Turner, won both the 2016 first semester criminal law moot, and the 2017 Graham Thomas QC moot. I have had the opportunity to represent ACU at external moots, competing against some of the biggest, and oldest universities in the country.
Mooting has meant that I have been able to work with senior Victorian Barristers. Including William Rimmer, Deborah Simensma, Peter Agardy, Steven Lowry, Paul Santamaria QC, Graham Thomas QC, Colin Hillman QC, and Geoff Horgan QC.
A big thank you is owed to these people, for offering their spare time to coach our teams and judge out moots.
Especially Graham Thomas QC, and Bill Rimmer, who have committed countless hours to building the infrastructure to ensure that ACU is a powerhouse within the Mooting ranks.