Author: Eloise Dibden, (soon-to-be) 5th Year Bachelor of Laws Student
I recently completed a five-week placement at the SA Solicitor-General’s Office (SGO) headed by the Solicitor-General (SG), Dr Chis Bleby, as part of the Adelaide Law School’s Law & Justice Internship. For those unaware, the SG is the State’s highest legal officer, who advises the Attorney General and government on legal matters for the State. Consequently, the SG often works on High Court cases, and appeal cases in the State’s highest court. Additional complex state legal matters may arise requiring the SG’s input, such as the recent coronial case of an Aboriginal death in custody, with which I was able to assist and observe.
This Internship is a three-unit law elective available to students that have completed Principles of Public Law, Constitutional Law, and Administrative Law (students can be completing the latter at the time of application). Each year, around August, the Law School sends a message encouraging students to apply. The best advice I received is to ‘apply, apply, apply!’ So, I advise you to keep an eye out for it, and fill out the application, even if you are a bit nervous and full of self-doubt (as I definitely was). There are then two parts to the course: a 22-25 day placement, and assessment comprising of reflective journals and a final essay. There are also an ever-expanding number of agencies eager to host up-and-coming law students, so there is bound to be one that will spark your interest.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work alongside, and learn from, some of the most skilled and down-to-earth individuals I have ever encountered. Their passion and dedication for the work they do is infectious, and made the transition to nine-to-five workdays a real joy. Working with the SGO has been one of the most enriching experiences of my Law School career. Not only did I feel as though I was truly part of a team contributing to real-life legal matters, but I also saw first-hand the amount of work, deliberations, and detail that goes on behind the scenes before a case ever reaches court. In fact, seeing how cases build from those initial notices and memos to a live-action hearing in court was one of my personal highlights. Having the chance to get so hands on and invest your time into tasks makes it all the more rewarding.
The research, writing, and analytical jobs I was assigned tested my reasoning and creativity. At times I felt at home with the written work given its similarity to Law School assessments. However, more often than not, I was placed outside my comfort zone. While this sounds like (and is) a daunting prospect, I am really grateful for these opportunities. It is exactly in these settings that you want to be challenged, so you can learn and grow, not just as a lawyer, but as an individual too. I have observed that how you interact and treat others is just as, if not more, important than the technical side of things. I learnt about law and justice in every sense. Equally, it was brilliant getting feedback on my work from professionals in the field, and reassurance as to its quality. Undertaking a placement can really help you visualise life after Law School, which is great for someone like myself who regularly feels directionless.
If there is one take-away message from this article, it is that I cannot recommend this Internship highly enough. Contact the Law School if you are interested, and want to find out more about the Law & Justice Internship. I would like to thank my wonderful colleagues at the SGO for making me feel so welcome and supported throughout my placement, and the Law School for making it all possible. Hand on heart, everyone at 45 Pirie Street is an absolute gem, and showed me just how positive and uplifting workplaces can, and should, be.