Alex Vanenn

Barristers/Legal Firms
Summer 2015

If you have any interest in working in native title then I highly recommend you apply for an Aurora internship via the Aurora Internship Program. Having just completed a six week placement at the Sixth Floor Windeyer Chambers with Tina Jowett and Vance Hughston SC, I can honestly say that I have learned more about native title in this short time than I have from my years of university.

Working in Barristers’ Chambers is an ideal location for anyone with a strong interest in the legal aspect of native title. I underwent a host of activities during my time, such as: drafting witness statements; undertaking legal research; reading case law; proofing journal articles; listening to Court appearances; sitting in on case management calls; preparing case briefs; organising lists of authorities; and attending conferences on native title law. There was never a lack of work to be done and, importantly, the work was never dull. 

Working in Chambers will be a great experience for anyone who is willing to challenge themselves and be thrown in the deep end. At first, the work may seem overwhelming as it is always difficult when first starting out at a new job. However, the people you will be working with are extremely friendly, so it will not be long before you are settled in and able to work independently.  The work you will be doing is by no means trivial, be prepared to work on meaningful tasks that will actually be used by the barristers. 

Working with the barristers not only provides an opportunity to learn more about native title law, but also allows you to talk to them about more general aspects of law. They were always happy to have a chat and provide career advice as well as tell me more about the roles of barristers and solicitors. Working in such a friendly environment made the placement all the more enjoyable and I ended up walking away having learned a lot about native title and the law in general. 

A problem that I am sure many students and recent graduates face is the lack of practical experience gained from their university studies. You may be able to do the research for an essay and answer a hypothetical question, but when it comes to real world experience of actually applying the law, you will need to look for opportunities outside your tertiary studies. This is what I found most useful about my time in Chambers. Reading about the law will only give you basic knowledge of how it works, however, when you are working with the law you will have an infinitely more useful experience as you will have a truer understanding of how the law works in practice. For anyone who wants to improve their skill set, an Aurora internship should provide a great opportunity for you to get yourself out there and see how native title actually works. 

Overall, I would honestly recommend anyone with an interest in native title to apply for an internship through the Aurora Internship Program. There are an abundance of different host organisations you can choose from, all working to support the Indigenous sector, and I am sure all of them will provide you with a great experience. The Program is not limited to law students, there are also opportunities for those studying anthropology, some social sciences and business (in some cases). 

For those with a particular interest in the current legal state of native title, I would give my strongest recommendation for applying to work with the native title barristers on the Sixth Floor Windeyer Chambers. I started my first day with only a basic understanding of native title, which I had gained from my studies. By the end of my placement I walked away having learned more than I thought possible. Native title is a unique, challenging and complex area of law, but this is what makes it so interesting.

The Program organises placements over the winter and summer semester breaks. For more information about the Program and to apply for a placement, check out the website at: .