Student advocates share their passion for the law in the lead up to Open Day

Final year Juris Doctor student Claire Wong's passion for social justice led her to study the law.

"I wanted to use my undergraduate specialisation in humanities to contribute to improving the lives of others," she says.

Studying the Juris Doctor at Melbourne Law School has allowed Ms Wong to achieve this goal. Taking subjects offered by the Law School's Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) gave her practical legal experience by providing the opportunity to give legal advice and assistance to disadvantaged clients.

Ms Wong says the highlight of her time at MLS would be appearing at the bar table as an advocate for her very own clients with Victorian Legal Aid.

"I found participating in PILI the most exciting and meaningful part of my time at MLS. It really made the learning of the law more accessible by giving a human aspect to what you read as part of your course.

"I was able to interact with clients and apply the information and skills that I had learned at Law School to actually make a positive difference in the lives of real people," she says.

Ms Wong says the intellectual challenge of studying law encourages you to engage in new ways of thinking.

"It has opened my mind to new ideas and requires you to engage in reasoned deliberation.

"There is also scope for reasoned and considered debate about important issues which I believe is one of the best ways to create policy, and potentially positive social change," she says.

Associate Dean of the JD Dr Jeannie Paterson agrees, and says studying law offers new ways of thinking about everyday problems.

"Students develop dispute resolution, problem solving and analytical skills, and also their understanding of the meaning of justice and professional ethics."

Outside of the classroom, Ms Wong volunteers for not-for-profit organisation 'People Outdoors', which run respite day activities and camps for people with disabilities, and believes that issues such as ensuring equal opportunity for people with disabilities are relevant to the notion of justice, human dignity and rights.Ms Wong describes the student experience at MLS as rich and fast-paced, with much to do and engage with.

"You will be immersed in dense and challenging cases, legislation and academic writing as well as partake in stimulating class discussions.

"Outside of the classroom, there are many opportunities to engage with members of the profession through the MLS Mentor program and networking events. Students can also participate in a number of competitions such as mooting, witness examination and client interviewing that are great ways of honing practical skills outside the classroom," she enthuses.

First year JD student Dominique Logan decided to become an Open Day Ambassador to share her MLS experience with others and speak to students about the course from her point of view.

"My experience at MLS thus far has only been positive and exciting, and I want to encourage other students to apply and enjoy the opportunities the JD has to offer," she says.

To get the most out of Open Day, Ms Logan advises visitors to take advantage of the sessions and seminars the Law School offers.

"The mock classes that are run are the best way to find out how you will interact and operate in the day-to-day life at the Law School! Academic advisors are super helpful, as there are so many varied subjects and pathways that the JD offers – they are a fountain of knowledge when it comes to pursuing your interests and passions," she says.

The experience is what you make it. Immerse yourself in a different way of thinking at MLS.

By Liz Banks-Anderson