Hi my name is Michael, and I have recently completed a Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practice from Flinders University.
I began my studies in 2013, moving from my hometown of Port Augusta to Adelaide for the duration of my degree. Towards the end of my study, I was able to return to Port Augusta for placement in a local law practice. It was at this time that I applied for jobs in all of the local law firms.
I officially completed my degree on the 22nd of August this year and less than a month later I was offered a job as a Criminal Lawyer at the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, based in Port Augusta. The opportunity offered was a dream come true, I had always favoured Criminal Law and I had always hoped that I could move back to my hometown.
I started work in early October. I will never forget my first day. I walked into the firm, introduced myself to the other staff members and went into my supervisor’s office to ask what tasks I would be doing that day. My supervisor informed me that she needed me to head over to the Courthouse to adjourn some matters for some of the firm’s clients. I was terrified. I had never appeared before a Magistrate before and even though I had sat in on many court sessions, doing it for the first time in a real setting was another experience!
Since my first day I have picked up 20 of my own clients and my list keeps growing. I have appeared in Court countless times for all sorts of matters, ranging from adjournments and bail applications to plea submissions and Pre-Trial Conferences. Some of my work requires me to travel to other rural areas for Court hearings – sometimes that means going all the way up to the APY lands. I have learnt a lot about Aboriginal culture and I often meet clients with the aid of an interpreter, so I’m also starting to learn traditional languages. I also have weekly appointments at the Port Augusta Prison for the purpose of visiting clients, taking instructions and giving advice. I have grown within the firm and I have an amazing working relationship with the staff. Working as a lawyer may sound full-on, but I love it and it’s the best job ever!
Even though its only been roughly a month and a half since I started, it feels like it’s been years. I have learnt a lot while working as a lawyer but I know that my success in this role is owed to the fantastic education I received from Flinders University. From day one of Law School I was being taught how to research and apply the law, how to think like a lawyer but communicate like an everyday human, and how to be an ethical professional. These practical and transferrable skills, that were developed and built on throughout my entire degree, have been the most useful so far.
Most people appreciate that working as a lawyer can be quite stressful and at times confronting and emotionally distressing. You have to remember that generally people only go to lawyers when something has gone wrong in their life and they need help. In Criminal Law, the clients coming through the door have been arrested by the police and are required to go to Court. The Flinders Law School helped prepare me for what I would face in the workplace, and that has also been really valuable. A lot of the law school program was designed around the importance of individual wellbeing and healthy lifestyle. It’s because of the fantastic guidance and support of my lecturers and tutors that I am able to handle tough situations and not feel sad or too stressed from dealing with them.
I would highly recommend the Flinders University Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practice to anyone wanting to study law. The program includes both theory and practical application which makes it really interesting and fun! Also, don’t stress if Criminal Law isn’t really your thing, when you enter Law School you have the opportunity to study all different kinds of law – there are core topics (the topics you have to do) and there are electives (topics you get to choose). When you finish your degree, that’s when you decide what area of law you want to pursue.
If you’re worried about not getting a high enough ATAR to get into law, make sure you check out the pathway options that Flinders University offer. I personally went through the Law Pathway because my ATAR wasn’t initially high enough to get straight in from Year 12. The pathway allowed me to still gain entry after one year and I’m now working my dream job.
Have a great holiday break, and good luck with school next year!