Ian Malkin Scholarship aims to redress financial inequality for students

Five years ago, having taught at the Law School for 25 years, MLS Professor Ian Malkin established an eponymous scholarship, to allow students to overcome financial barriers and engage in volunteer legal experience.

Ian Malkin

Professor Ian Malkin

The Ian Malkin Internship Scholarship supports JD students to take up an internship in the not-for-profit or government sector.

Adam Percy, who was awarded the Ian Malkin scholarship in 2014, says the scholarship made it possible for him to undertake an internship at the Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre (FKCLC).

“Law students are often forced to forego public interest internships because of the need to make money between semesters. The Malkin Scholarship helped to alleviate that pressure, and I was able to contribute to my local community legal centre as a result,” he says.

Now working as a lawyer at Allens, Adam believes the scholarship had a tangible impact on his path to employment.

“Professionally, my internship provided the dual benefit of helping me to understand my interests in different areas of law, and starting me on the path to gaining legal experience. As my first experience doing actual legal work, the time I spent as an intern at FKCLC remains one of the most formative experiences in my journey as a legal practitioner,” he says.

Adam says it is important for all law students, regardless of their financial circumstances, to have the opportunity to engage in the public service ethos of the legal profession.

“Personally, I have always had a desire to give back to my local community, and my internship at FKCLC was a perfect opportunity to do so.”

For Professor Malkin, seeing the scholarship awarded at prize ceremonies, and hearing about students’ internship experiences, is a highlight of his teaching experience.

“It’s always gratifying hearing from students who have been granted the scholarship - that it’s helped them pursue community justice related volunteer work of great interest to them.”

Professor Malkin says the scholarship aims to alleviate the financial burden that can affect a student’s experiences while at law school, including the development of professional skills. Aside from the immediate rewards associated with providing volunteer assistance in the government or not-for-profit sector, in some circumstances this can enhance students’ chances of future employment.

“I think we have to acknowledge that it’s not a level playing field for all MLS students. All students should, to the degree possible, have worthwhile opportunities in the community justice sector, facilitated by the law school, open to them. I think it’s a real shame if financial considerations thwart those possibilities.”

To mark his 30 years of teaching at MLS, Professor Malkin recently contributed $30,000 to the scholarship corpus.

“The donation came out of, what we call a ‘staff development account’. In that account I had a large sum of money that came out of teaching awards I had received over the years,” Professor Malkin says. “I thought it would be a chance to divert $30,000 over to the scholarship.”

Professor Malkin’s receipt of teaching awards is no surprise to those that know, or have been taught by, him. Within the MLS community, he is legendary for his ability to inspire and engage students in the classroom.

But while quality of teaching is undoubtedly important, Professor Malkin believes that universities should also address other factors, such as financial inequality, which can impact students.

“I wanted to grant students a chance to do some good in the world, pursuing their passions, working at a not-for-profit organisation or some other internship opportunity for which they don’t get paid; it would be quite costly if they have to support themselves and would be terribly unfair if they missed out on opportunities due to lack of privilege,” he says.

Gifts of any size towards the Ian Malkin Internship Scholarship are greatly appreciated. Donations can be made via this link by selecting the Ian Malkin Internship Scholarship option.

By Blake Connell