Publicly Interested?

4 June 2010

Be guided by your passion for a cause; and, if you cannot make a full time career from social justice practice, avail yourself of the many opportunities to volunteer your skills to advocacy and policy-making organisations. This was the common base of the messages offered by the legal advocacy and policy organisations that participated in inaugural Publically Interested careers fair, held on 26 May.

Publically Interested was organised by the Sydney University Law Society's Careers Committee, with Dr Arlie Loughnan acting as Academic Co-ordinator. Professor Peter Cashman, convenor of the social justice clinical course and inaugural Professor of Social Justice, delivered a keynote address to open the fair.

Students had the opportunity to meet lawyers that had made social justice careers- from government organisations such as Legal Aid, Aboriginal Legal Service and NSW Department of Juvenile Justice - and lawyers that combined social justice practice and corporate careers. A representative from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties noted the support that she receives from her employer in her volunteer work for the NSWCCL.

A range of environmental and humanitarian causes were represented at the fair. These included the Pacific Calling Partnership (which acts for Australia's pacific island neighbours threatened by rising sea levels), HIV/AIDS Legal Centre, and the Aurora Project (which runs an internship program for law students wishing to volunteer with native title representative bodies in metropolitan, regional and remote areas).

Pro bono and public interest litigation is a significant, and growing, part of practice for medium and large firms. Representatives from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers provided information to students about their dedicated social justice practice which draws on in house expertise in areas such as workplace and asylum seeker rights.

The Public Interest Law Clearing House and Refugee Advice and Casework Service, partner organisations for the social justice clinical course, attracted a lot of interest from Sydney Law School students wishing to participate in the program (and sample the artful cupcakes at the PILCH table). PILCH offers law graduates the opportunity to complete the practical legal training (PLT) required for admission as a solicitor at their offices.

While Sydney had provided a miserably rainy day, it proved no deterrent for the crowds of enthusiastic students eager to use their legal skills to further the interests of the socially disadvantaged and excluded, and in the interests of human rights and environmental protection.

Contact: Caroline Falshaw

Phone: +61 2 9351 0483

Email: 0726133d232e011774092a254a0d0342181d31000b2920461c533c7a040d