An Aurora internship via the Aurora Native Title Internship Program is by far one of the most rewarding experiences you will have during the course of your studies. If you are after an opportunity to develop some great legal skills, give back to the community, bolster your resume and ultimately find out what a lawyer actually does, then I would strongly recommend applying for an internship with the Aurora Project.
I did my internship with the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) in their criminal department. Whilst being a legal aid type body for Indigenous persons, NAAJA is the largest criminal defence firm in the Northern Territory. The organisation has offices in Darwin, Katherine and Nhulunbuy and handles some of the biggest cases in the Territory.
During my internship my day to day tasks varied depending on the needs of the lawyers in the office. I conducted legal research for numerous cases with the more interesting ones being a murder case, a manslaughter case and a sexual assault/ rape case. I took initial instructions from clients charged with more basic offences, reviewed and transcribed CCTV footage and police interviews and also regularly attended the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court to observe NAAJA lawyers and barristers in action. Towards the end of my internship I was also entrusted to complete written submissions for a couple of cases.
One of the more notable experiences I had whilst on my internship was attending ‘bush court’ in a remote Indigenous community called Wadeye. Bush court is the process whereby a magistrate, court staff, prosecution and defence counsel all fly out to remote communities to hear criminal matters that occur in those areas. This adventure gave me a first-hand look into what life is actually like in an Aboriginal community. The people, their customs, their traditions and their mode of living is truly unique and an experience I will treasure for a very long time.
Whilst I went into my internship with feelings of trepidation and hesitation I am so thankful that I had this opportunity and experience. It was invaluable to my development as a lawyer but also as a person. Going into my internship I had an interest in criminal law however was unsure whether it was the area for me. Now I can state without a doubt that I would love to work for a legal aid organisation like NAAJA. If you are in the same boat and still unsure as to what area of law you want to practice after you graduate then I strongly recommend you apply for an Aurora internship.. For more information take a look at their website http://www.auroraproject.com.au/or alternatively google search aurora project. They place students and graduates in numerous organisations and fields of law, anthropology and some social sciences. Applications for the winter 2014 round open from 3 March through 28 March.