In February 2018, I undertook an Aurora Internship in my hometown of Adelaide. Aurora is an organisation that supports Indigenous organisations and facilitates opportunities for students and graduates to gain practical experience within the indigenous sector.
I was placed at Selby Street Chambers where barristers Andrew Collett and Simon Blewett work in the areas of Aboriginal, industrial, employment, human rights, anti-discrimination, administrative and personal injury law. From the very first day, I was fully immersed in the work of the chambers: meeting clients, reading briefs, compiling chronologies, attending court and developing legal arguments. I was exposed to a range of matters from stolen generation cases, workers compensation, administrative law and some litigation work. A real highlight of the work was the opportunity to delve into details of a new brief, analyse the evidence and then think about how to argue a particular point.
Life as a uni-student exposes you to the theory of law e.g. person A breached a duty of care which caused person B to suffer loss. However, this internship took my student knowledge and placed it within the very real context of a client meeting, a courtroom or a solicitor’s office. I attended two mediation conferences where I quickly learnt the importance of tactical negotiation. I also had the opportunity to sit through most of a six-day trial where I saw the rules of evidence, the strategies employed by each side and witness examinations played out in front of me. Being able to watch experienced legal practitioners in these settings gave life to the theory I had learnt as university.
It is a rare privilege to spend time with legal practitioners who have had over 30 years in the profession and are well-respected in the legal fraternity. Andrew is one of the leading barristers in Aboriginal law and an internship at Selby Street Chambers gives invaluable insight into the legal profession. Both Andrew and Simon are very friendly, generous with their time and willing to help. Often, I would find myself walking with either Andrew and Simon across the streets of Adelaide discussing the reasoning behind a strategy, questions about the law or career advice. I was also able to meet members of the legal profession in Adelaide from solicitors to District Court judges and the Attorney-General. I really felt that I gained a deeper understanding of what this profession entails and it is this experience that I will treasure the most from this internship.
I would strongly recommend the Aurora Internship Program to anyone who is interested in gaining practical legal experience or would like to know more about working in social justice and the indigenous sector. There are opportunities to gain experience with a wide range of organisations and the Aurora placements team support you through the whole process. Applications for the winter 2018 round are open now and will close on 30th March 2018. Successful students from Adelaide University can use this internship for course credit through the Native Title Internship elective.