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My Work Experience at Legal Aid

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By the time you reach your mid-30s (as I have) you know that 80 percent of job opportunities are not advertised. Having recently been accepted into a juris doctor course, I questioned whether I really wanted to spend another four years at university busting my backside to be admitted to such a demanding profession.

The answer was yes, and I then reverted to a high school mentality and told myself, “well then, you need yourself some work experience, girlfriend!”

I used to think that given my background in German translation and European history and politics, that I would steer myself in the direction of international law. However, after learning more about the prevalence of family violence in this country, I am now determined to pursue a career in family law.

I headed to the Law Institute of Victoria website and proceeded to send my CV to pretty much every Melbourne firm in its directory that specialised in family law. Nothing came up (or rather, no one was willing to take on someone who had not even commenced their degree yet, no matter how “mature-aged” and “experienced”).

Damn, I thought. I need to know if I really want to do this!It then dawned on me that the legal world is much bigger than Melbourne’s CBD. I grew up in a fairly average-sized country town in regional Victoria: maybe they would have a Victoria Legal Aid office that might be interested in taking on an ol’ local girl for some work experience?

I tracked down the Victoria Legal Aid office in my hometown and sent them a completely unsolicited copy of my CV along with a passionate cover letter expressing my interest in family law and combating family violence. A few phone conversations and a Working with Children check later, I was headed back home for a month. Score!

There is no way I can summarise everything I learned from the amazing people I was surrounded by: lawyers, legal assistants, drug and alcohol counsellors, Koori Court officers, DHS workers, disability case managers and many more who help keep the wheels of justice moving.

I learned so much during my time at Victoria Legal Aid. Finding a work experience position took some searching but if you want some experience, just go to the Internet and find the closest 20 law firms in your area, send them your CV and tell them exactly why you want to do work experience with them. You won’t regret it; I certainly didn’t.

I still haven’t answered the golden question yet: “Do you still want to be a family lawyer?” I know it’s not going to be easy, but after everything I saw an experienced in my time at Victoria Legal Aid, you betcha I do.

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