Sydney Law School Social Justice Program

Social Justice Program

Launched in 2009, the Sydney Law School Social Justice Program provides an important opportunity for students to gain practical legal experience and provide vital services to disadvantaged members of our community. The Program is directed by Professor Peter Cashman, appointed in 2009 to the inaugural Kim Santow Chair in Law and Social Justice, and Irene Baghoomians, who has an extensive background in coordinating external placement programs and experiential learning in general.

The Social Justice Program offers eligible students in the LLB and JD courses the opportunity to undertake up to two units [12 credit points] gaining experience in social justice initiatives, within a clinical placement under the supervision of a specified provider.

2016 Application Information

Advantages of including a social justice component in your degree

The units associated with the Social Justice program allow you to undertake a clinical placement at established community legal organisations and law firms involved in public interest law which have an excellent track record in providing much-needed professional legal services to the disadvantaged or vulnerable members of the community.

The units expose you to real-world cases, enable you to apply knowledge gained in the classroom, and develop practical skills such as researching, case-writing, and client interviewing.

In addition, the extended involvement with social justice issues can aid in enhancing the employability of graduates of the LLB and/or JD.

Social Justice Program

Choice of providers

The clinical legal education program has been created through agreements between the Sydney Law School and a number of established community legal centres and other organisations offering legal advice and representation to special interest groups, as well as law firms.

Some of the providers who have offered/will be offering clinical placements include the following, although please note that not all options will be available throughout the year:

Other law / social justice internships may be accepted in lieu of the above placements. Criteria for approval of these internships are being developed and you should ensure that a prospective provider is clear as to their responsibilities. Please contact Professor Cashman or Irene Baghoomians for further information.

Social Justice Legal Clinic units available

Social Justice Legal Clinic is available through the academic year:

Social Justice Legal Clinic A (LAWS3461/5161)

  • Semester 1- Early intensive in February (with PIAC)
  • Semester 1 -Semester-length

Social Justice Legal Clinic B (LAWS3431/5131)

  • Semester 2 -Semester-length

Enrolment process

The Social Justice Program arranges placements for students with various organisations. The process is as follows:

  1. Apply for the relevant unit via Sydney Student (LAWS3461/5161 early intensive or Semester 1; LAWS3431/5131 in Semester 2).
  2. You will receive an email from the Professional Law Programs team to confirm you have been enrolled, after assessment of your registration, and will receive access to the LMS site upon enrolment.
  3. In the form on the LMS you should rank your preferences in terms of placement sites (applicable for Semester 1) or specialised areas of the Law in which you would like to complete your placement (Semester 2 enrolments only), and forward this to the Team Leader, Academic Support in the Law School. Note that the early intensive is held at PIAC, so you will not be required to rank preferences for that session.
  4. Those students with a WAM of 75 or above may also include King & Wood Mallesons, although please note that this is by invitation only.
  5. Students will be allocated on the basis of preferences and the availability of places. Once the allocation process has been completed, you will receive an email from the Team Leader, Academic Support, indicating your placement site.
  6. You will be contacted by a representative of the placement site prior to the commencement of your placement.

Enrolment deadlines

There are enrolment deadlines and numbers for each unit are limited, so you should apply as soon as enrolment opens.

Social Justice Legal Clinic A LAWS3461/5161 Early Intensive – only available at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
3 February 2016 – Orientation Day
8-11 February 2016 – Lectures
12-26 February 2016 – Placement days

Enrolments/Applications open 8 December, 2015
Enrolments/Applications close 4 January, 2016

Social Justice Legal Clinic A LAWS3461/5161 Semester-length Semester 1
One day per week (placement) plus a 2 hour weekly seminar during Semester 1, 2016

Enrolments/Applications open 8 December, 2015
Enrolments/Applications close 30 January, 2016

Social Justice Legal Clinic B LAWS3431/5131 Semester-length Semester 2
One day per week (placement) plus a 2 hour fortnightly seminar during Semester 2, 2016

Enrolments/Applications open 8 December, 2015

What is the assessment?

The Social Justice Legal Clinic A and B units are graded units of study. The final grade will be based on a combination of written assessment, seminar performance, class participation and evaluation of the clinical placement by the provider.

Social Justice Scholarships

There is currently one scholarship offered for students including a Social Justice component/unit in their degree.

This is the Judicial Conference of Australia Scholarship. Two scholarships will be available for each iteration of a Social Justice unit (ie in the early intensive, in Semester 1 and in Semester 2), although the Scholarship Panel will make decisions for all units in March of that year.

Details, including application form, eligibility criteria and closing dates, are available on the Law School scholarship websites for LLB students and JD students.


Can I do both units Social Justice Legal Clinic A and B?

Yes, although you should carefully consider the implications for your course, and ensure that you have left sufficient room in your degree plan for all the compulsory units and desired electives. If in doubt, seek course advice from the team.

Can I do the placement at a provider of my choosing, where there is not an agreement with the University of Sydney?

Other law / social justice internships may be accepted in lieu of the usual placements. They should have a public interest, social justice and/or human rights focus.

It is your responsibility to obtain details about the proposed clinical placement before this can be approved. Please contact Professor Peter Cashman or Irene Baghoomians, for further information.

Who do I contact for more information if I’m unsure about whether a Social Justice unit is the right choice for me?

There are a limited number of placement positions available, and you are required to enrol before you nominate a preferred provider.

Therefore, it is strongly suggested that if you are interested in undertaking a clinical placement that you discuss this in an email to the relevant unit coordinator (Professor Peter Cashman for the early intensive and Semester 1 (Social Justice Legal Clinic A LAWS 3461/LAWS5161), and Ms Irene Baghoomians for Semester 2 (Social Justice Legal Clinic B LAWS343/LAWS5131), with a copy of your email to Ruth Machalias, Team Leader, Academic Support.

This avoids places being allocated to students who subsequently decide not to pursue the Social Justice Legal Clinic option.

What if I don’t get in to my choice of placement?

Every effort is made to allocate students to their first or second preference. Should you particularly wish to do your placement with a particular provider, you should indicate this on the form.

However, there is no guarantee that you will be allocated to your first preference, and in the case that you do not receive your first preference you have the option of undertaking the Social Justice Legal Clinic unit in the subsequent semester or teaching period.

What if I don’t get into the unit before the quota is reached?

Again, if you do not manage to apply before the quota is reached (and the quota is often filled prior to the final enrolment date), you might like to consider applying for the subsequent teaching period, when Social Justice Legal Clinic is next offered.