Over the summer period of 2015/2016, I undertook a legal internship through the Aurora Internship Program. Aurora is an organisation that aims to strengthen Indigenous organisations and facilitate internship experience in the Indigenous legal, anthropological and social-science sectors. Their internship program affords students and graduates opportunities to work within an organisation and gain practical experience.
I was placed with barrister Andrew Collett in Adelaide. Andrew works at the independent bar, and his work ranges from native title to personal injury – and everything in between. I was thrown right in to practical legal work: drafting, researching and helping to develop legal arguments.
My work was challenging from the beginning, both in terms of workload and intellectually. Andrew expected me to be up to speed quickly, and gave me enormous opportunity to expand my legal, cultural and research skills. The practical experiences were hugely diverse, including: sitting in on client interviews, developing arguments in a cultural heritage matter, helping to prepare evidence for a native title claim and serving a summons. It was an induction into the practicalities of the profession that I could have only dreamed of.
On a personal level, working with someone so experienced was again a perfect introduction to legal practice. While my degree has been theory-heavy, the internship provided me with the opportunity to develop new skills, and broaden my interests. This included working on legal documents like statements of claim, outlines of argument and understanding complex briefs with large collections of evidence.
The Aurora program provides a wonderful network of organisations, from practitioners like Andrew to Land Councils, and everything in between. While my internship was in my home city, opportunities for travel exist. The program provides excellent support while also allowing you to shape your own experience.
The highlight of my internship was definitely the time that I was able to spend with Andrew in court on a matter that I had worked on throughout my internship. To see something come to court, and to see Andrew on his feet arguing the points that we had worked on together, was extremely rewarding.
I would strongly recommend an Aurora internship to all law students and graduates, especially those with an interest in legal practice and social justice. At the University of Adelaide, an elective subject related to the program exists, as do scholarships to help assist prospective interns. There are placements in the summer and the winter, and further information can be found at http://www.auroraproject.com.au/aurorainternshipprogram. Applications for the winter 2016 round are open now through 5pm AEDT Friday 1st April 2016.
The Native title internship elective course is open to students who secure and successfully complete an Aurora project internship. It is undertaken the semester after your placement, and builds on that experience by allowing you the opportunity to undertake a significant research project under the supervision of a member of the Adelaide Law School’s academic staff. It’s a great opportunity to explore an aspect of native title or another legal issue affecting Indigenous peoples in depth, and to complete a research project with one-on-one supervision within your undergraduate degree. If you have any questions about the elective please contact Anne Hewitt at email@example.com.