As industries and sectors respond to the evolving challenges of COVID-19, some QUT Law students have been able to continue their placements transitioning from face-to-face to online, embracing the work-from-home style of remote working.
As part of the final-year legal research capstone unit, students have the opportunity undertake a placement with a firm or community legal centre. Fortunately, some organisations were able to facilitate students continuing their placements online.
Osanna Fa'ata'ape and Irene Gallagher are in their final year of study and completing legal research capstone. Osanna is completing her placement at Caxton Legal Centre and Irene is doing her placement at Newland Chase, an international migration consultancy.
Osanna is a Student Volunteer at Caxton and spends four hours per week completing her placement, connecting with her supervisor and fellow peers via Zoom. An average day involves researching a client matter, drafting advice, receiving feedback and then discussing the contextual and practical issues involved with the matter. During one of her online work days, a criminal barrister joined their zoom session to share her experience in the private and pro bono sectors.
When asked how Osanna’s experience has contributed to her career goals she said, “The placement has solidified within me the desire to use my strengths and my position to make a positive impact and a meaningful difference in people’s lives. I know that I have a heart for helping and I’m most passionate about giving a voice to the vulnerable and drawing near to those on the fringe”. Osanna is studying a Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management)/Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree and envisions working in advocacy, the community legal sector, or utilising her HR degree and pursuing employment law.
In her third and final year studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), Irene has been working as a Migration Services Associate during her placement at Newland Chase. Her role involves preparing visa applications and supporting information, legal research, drafting submissions for review cases at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and liaising with clients. Irene says that the placement has solidified her aspirations to work in migration law, particularly with asylum seekers and refugee rights.
Both students commented on the invaluable experience the placements have had to further develop their legal writing and research skills and understand the diversity of client needs. Osanna said, “It has also taught me how to communicate better with clients from many different backgrounds”.
Students on placement for legal research capstone undertake a wide range of tasks depending on the requirements, set up and supervisory capacity of their employer. This can include legal research, drafting documents, attending court call overs via phone, and a number of other tasks.
"The placements provide students with a wonderful opportunity to learn skills they will be applying as future law graduates. Many of the students undertaking placements have been able to adapt quickly to the new circumstances and make the most of the ability to continue with their placements under the working-from-home arrangements," said Emily Darling, unit coordinator for legal research capstone.
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