Street Law team win Diversity and Inclusion Award

Melbourne Law School's Lucy Quinn and Joanne Kerr, in collaboration with Catherine Reid from Melbourne Graduate School of Education, have won a University of Melbourne Diversity and Inclusion Award for their implementation of the innovative subject, Street Law.

Lucy Quinn and Joanne Kerr with Catherine Reid

The Street Law team won the award on 13 September for the Juris Doctor subject that saw law students taking their legal knowledge into the community to work with secondary students from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds.

"We were thrilled to win the award," says Coordinator of the subject, Lucy Quinn.

"The Street Law program is one of a small number of experiential learning programs at the Law School. It gives our students a great opportunity to put what they learn into practice right off the bat.  The nature of the Street Law program also means that our students are able to contribute to their community in a very real and immediate way."

One of three University of Melbourne Diversity and Inclusion Awards, the award recognises Street Law as a program which demonstrates innovation and excellence in furthering diversity and social inclusion at University of Melbourne.

The subject involves JD students visiting secondary schools and educating the students on what it means to be a citizen with legal rights and responsibilities. The lessons cover topics such as the legal consequences of sexting, consumer rights and the rights of casual workers.

"One of the strengths of the program is that we go out to the secondary schools – this way, the law school students get an insight into the environment that the high school students are coming from and in turn, high school students get an insight into the environment where our law school students study," says Ms Quinn.

"There is a real exchange of information and this helps to create learning both ways."

Ms Quinn believes Street Law aligns very closely with the social diversity and inclusion objectives of the University.

"The Street Law subject is important as it teaches the law students that public legal education can be a tool of empowerment," says Ms Quinn.

Street Law is part of a wider Melbourne Law School strategy designed to broaden the range of experiences available to students interested in public interest law. The Public Interest Law Initiative embraces innovative new subjects and projects that have seen this year's students testing their legal knowledge beyond the classroom. JD students have gained exposure to the work of lawyers with Victoria Legal Aid and undertaken a wide range of internships to develop their practical legal skills.

By Jade Bonney