By Ashley Ambesi
When I first began law school, I mainly knew of the Law Institute of Victoria through the Law Institute Journal – a handy publication full of succinct legal articles that helped me when writing legal essays . As a student member, I also discovered the Young Lawyers Journal and Blog, which are must-reads for every law student wanting to gain a better understanding of the profession. When I saw that La Trobe Law School had partnered with LIV for this internship, I knew it would be a fantastic opportunity to experience how Victoria’s peak legal representative body is helping to shape legal practice and policy.
The LIV policy section is full of people who are very passionate about law reform issues and strengthening public faith in the legal profession. The enthusiasm at LIV is really infectious – in my first week I found myself eagerly anticipating the release of a Royal Commission report, so that I could be a part of analysing the recommendations, which is not my usual approach to 2000+ page documents.
Currently, my placement is within the Family Law practice section. I can’t think of a better time to have begun an internship in this area, since Australia’s first Royal Commission into Family Violence released its final report during my second week. This meant that I was able to directly observe the impact a major report can have on the work of an organisation like LIV. The report represents a watershed moment in Victoria’s response to family violence, with the State government committing to implementing all of its recommendations. Because of this, LIV is actively working on gaining input from all relevant family violence service providers, including lawyers, police officers, and support services, as to how these recommendations might be implemented. I have had a number of staff who weren’t directly involved in family law, come up to me to express their excitement at this report’s release. I found myself feeling honoured at being present during such a momentous occasion.
A typical day in my placement involves conducting research that will assist the Family Law section to develop and implement initiatives aimed at law reform advocacy, particularly with regards to family violence. Aside from this, I also connect with like-minded professionals and members of the public to gain insight into how LIV can respond to legal and social issues. During my research, I have gained knowledge into national and international responses to family violence, along with a better understanding of the challenges surrounding the current Victorian legal system. I have also analysed recommendations from other reports relating to family violence – including the Coroner’s inquest into the death of Luke Batty – and I’ve learned a great deal about excellent, hardworking family violence support services like Safe Steps and inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence.
As well as conducting research, I have been able to join team meetings and learn about projects from other practice sections, like Criminal Law, Workplace Relations and Human Rights. The team at LIV is very diverse and hardworking, but they also know how to have fun. LIV is a very open, friendly and collaborative workplace, so I feel like I have learned a little bit about each of the practice sections. There are often free seminars running as well that the interns are welcome to attend. I attended the ‘Ideas for Careers’ events for law students recently and had the chance to listen and speak to legal professionals in the field of criminal law.
I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to complete a placement in any of LIV’s practice areas to do so, since it is a fantastic place to gain practical knowledge in several areas of the legal profession. I also encourage any interested law students to check out the range of seminars and events offered by LIV. There is so much on offer, and LIV is a fantastic resource for those at the beginnings of their legal careers!
Ashley Ambesi is currently in her final year of a Bachelor of Laws (Graduate Entry) at La Trobe Law School.