Unlike most, I started off my new year with an Aurora internship at Terri Janke and Company (TJC) in Sydney as part of the Aurora Internship Program. I had first heard about Terri Janke years ago in an undergraduate law unit; she is an esteemed lawyer in the area of Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) and, increasingly, other areas of law. Aurora is a natural fit for the firm; both have the common goal of facilitating the advancement of Indigenous people’s rights, land and prospects. Although Aurora is historically more focused on Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs), there are so many more potential organisations to intern with, including research organisations, government departments, not for profits and law firms like TJC.
Beginning the internship, I expected that the office would be very formalistic, with minimal opportunity for casual conversation. Quite quickly, this expectation was dispelled; the office of TJC is full of bright and cheery staff with a fantastic sense of humour. Terri is no exception. Monday morning meetings always began with chats about the weekend, and we regularly got tasty take-aways for lunch; for future interns, ask Taryn (the Office Manager) about the wonderful Greek place nearby! In contrast to a typical internship that a law student might undertake, working for TJC meant working for a dedicated group of people who want to make a difference, rather than a faceless corporation that prefers to focus on billable hours.
I was just as impressed with the type of work that I was assigned; while I was at TJC I worked on everything from drafting policy documents to writing advice for clients, and, of course, a wide variety of legal research. A particular highlight for me was assisting in the development of an Access and Benefit Sharing Agreement, which is a burgeoning area which helps Indigenous people get a fair share of benefits from their bioresources and Traditional Knowledge. The work I did at TJC taught me more than any unit at university could, and the feedback from Terri and the other solicitor at the firm, Anika, helped me create a strong foundation for legal drafting skills that will be useful when I become a lawyer.
Staying in Sydney also had its advantages. There was a wonderful park next to the TJC office where I often ate my lunch, and there is no shortage of day trips that you can take on the weekends; a particular highlight for me was having fish and chips in Vaucluse, gazing at the Opera House and harbour bridge in the distance.
I would not hesitate to recommend an internship at TJC, and I am confident that other Aurora partners would offer a similarly enjoyable experience. Aurora allows budding law students and graduates to intern at organisations that may otherwise be out of reach for the typical law student, and allows you to make a tangible difference to Indigenous affairs. For more information, head to http://www.auroraproject.com.au/aurorainternshipprogram.
Applications for the winter 2016 round of internships are open from the 7th of March until the 1st of April; good luck!