Hearsay ... the Journal of the Bar Association of Queensland
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Inaugural Indigenous Law Student Program Print E-mail

Indigenous-Program_intro.jpgThe inaugural Indigenous Law Student Program commenced on 8 April 2019 with the successful student, Ms Charlotte Batterham, attending the first component of a three tiered internship scheme. The Program is designed as an introduction to life at the Bar, encompassing three weeks experience with the Courts and in Barristers’ chambers. A joint initiative of the Bar Association of Queensland in partnership with the Queensland and Federal Courts, the program provides an innovative and solid foundation to support Indigenous law students with the intention to increase the number of Indigenous Barristers at the Queensland Bar.

Ms Batterham spent her first week at the Federal Court under the guiding hand of the Honourable Justice Collier. An intensive schedule included an introduction to the Registry of the Federal Court and the Federal Circuit Court with case managers, involvement with the Federal Court Native Title team and time spent in Court with Justice Collier and Justice Jarrett. The program, structured by the Court, included an in-depth examination of how a case progresses through the Court system­—from new online e-lodgement to final judgement.

At the Supreme Court, Charlotte’s second week involved attending Court every day, including observing applications, a civil trial and a criminal trial. Each day the immersive experience concluded in a debrief with the Honourable Justice Phillipides, who provided context and insight into the day’s proceedings.

Ms Batterham described the program as an invaluable experience:

“It is often said, we don't know what we don't know until we know it, and how true it is after experiencing a week of seeing our Courts in action. Seeing behind the scenes of the Federal Court and the Supreme Court, along with attending Court, bought together all of the pieces of knowledge learnt while undertaking my law degree.”

The final component of the program, a week in Barristers’ chambers, will take place in the university break in September. The program aims to bring the theoretical learning of study to the real world, crossing a range of legal areas, dependent on the candidate’s interests. Access to the legal system, accompanied with the opportunity to meet and experience the everyday routine of Barristers and the Judiciary, provides the opportunity to break down barriers for Indigenous law students who may be considering life at the Bar.

Ms Batterham encourages other Indigenous law students to apply for the program. “I am grateful I had support to gently nudge me to apply for the opportunity,” she said.

“The Judges and their associates are impressive people, dedicated, genuine and supportive. As Mark Twain says ‘It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others’.”

Application for the 2020 Indigenous Law Student Program close on 30 September 2019.

The Association would like to express its thanks to Justice Collier and Justice Philippides for their Honours’ contribution and assistance in making the program such a success.

Nadine Davidson-Wall 

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