Street Law

Subject LAWS50102 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 5 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

144 hours.

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013
Semester 2
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013


Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law School welcomes applications from students with disabilities. It is University and Law School policy to take all reasonable steps to enable the participation of students with disabilities, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student’s participation in the School’s programs.

The inherent academic requirements for the study in the Melbourne Law School are:

  1. The ability to attend classes and actively engage in the analysis of complex materials and debate;
  2. The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  3. The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  4. The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  5. The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  6. The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students must possess behavioural and social attributes that enable them to participate in a complex learning environment. Students are required to take responsibility for their own participation and learning. They also contribute to the learning of other students in collaborative learning environments, demonstrating interpersonal skills and an understanding of the needs of other students. Assessment may include the outcomes of tasks completed in collaboration with other students.

Students who feel their disability will prevent them from participating in tasks involving these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


Melbourne Law School Student Centre
Tel: +61 3 8344 4475

Subject Overview:

Street Law is an innovative subject that involves JD students visiting secondary schools in Melbourne that are classified as being 'low SES' for the purpose of delivering three lessons on legal topics of interest and relevance to young people. Street Law provides a unique opportunity for students to develop their technical and communication skills, while at the same time making a tangible contribution to the community through the delivery of legal lessons to an audience that may not usually have strong avenues of access to legal education or the legal profession.

Students undertaking Street Law will develop and implement fundamental communication skills, including the ability to explain complex legal concepts and information to a non-lawyer, non specialist audience. The program is also designed to build skills and enhance confidence in public speaking, which is important for any legal professional. More broadly, students undertaking the program will gain experience in the provision of community legal education, which is an increasingly important aspect of the work of lawyers in many parts of the profession (and particularly the community legal sector).

Participation in Street Law will require students to develop a thorough understanding of the relevant areas of law to be taught, based on materials supplied by Melbourne Law School. Specific topics to be covered will change from year to year, and may include broad topics (such as the place of indigenous Australians in Australia's legal system) and/or topics of specific practical relevance to high school students (such as rights at work). Students will liaise with teachers at their assigned school to identify the best method of adapting supplied materials to the particular curriculum needs and context of an individual school. The substantive knowledge will then need to be communicated in a clear and accessible manner in presentations to high school students of varying academic abilities and backgrounds. Students enrolled in this subject will receive instruction in relevant substantive areas from law school faculty, as well as specialist training in lesson planning and delivery from faculty at the University of Melbourne's Graduate School of Education. Students will also have the opportunity to develop new materials which may either be used by individual schools and/or by Street Law at MLS in future years.

Longstanding experience of Street Law programs in the US (where it originated thirty years ago) and in other countries indicates that participation in a street law program develops a range of skills in law students including knowledge of and ability to use the law, interpersonal skills, autonomous learning, preparation and organisational skills, critical self-reflection and the ability to think on one's feet (1). Other research has found that lawyers who participated in a street law program reported that the experience had helped them to explain the law clearly and practically in their professional lives which had in turn increased their confidence and enhanced their public speaking skills (2).

The subject also provides students enrolled with the opportunity to contribute to the intellectual and social development of students from high schools classified as being 'low SES'. While one of the goals of a street law program is to impart substantive knowledge of relevant aspects of the law, it is also to promote in high school students skills in 'critical thinking and analysis of complex topics through the study of law and justice' (3). Another goal is to inspire students from non-traditional backgrounds to aspire to university study and possibly also the study of law.

Finally, JD students will be involved in organising a one-day practical skills workshop at Melbourne Law School at the end of semester in which high school students from the various schools will be invited to participate. Practical exercises might include, for example, witness examination and client interviewing.

(1) Pinder, K, 'Street Law: Twenty Five Years and Counting' (1998) 27 Journal of Law and Education 211 at 226, 230-31.
(2) Katz, B, 'Practical Law 101' (2001-2002) 30 Student Lawyer 24 at 26.
(3) Pinder, above n 1, at 212.


A student who has successfully completed Street Law will:

  • Have specialised knowledge of at least three substantive areas of law relevant to young people;
  • Understand and have the ability to critically assess theories of teaching and lesson delivery;
  • Have a nuanced understanding of some of the challenges faced by young people in the Australian legal system;
  • Have an advanced and practical understanding of the challenges involved in effectively communicating complex legal concepts and ideas to a non-specialist audience;
  • Have an understanding of appropriate methods for identifying and developing written materials suitable for use to communicate to non-lawyers;
  • Have a sophisticated understanding of the importance of legal literacy; and
  • Have an understanding of community legal resources relevant to young people.


The assessment for Street Law has several components as follows:

Hurdle requirements:

  1. Attendance at all seminars conducted at MLS, as well as scheduled visits to assigned schools, is compulsory;
  2. Adequate administrative assistance in planning the one day practical skills workshop at end of semester.

Graded Assessment:

  1. Three written lesson plans: 25%;
  2. Assessment of 1 (out of 3) school presentations: 20%;
  3. Development of new materials on an agreed topic for use either by high schools directly and/or in MLS' Street Law course in the future, presented in the form of a substantive background paper of 2000 words: 30%;
  4. Reflective essay integrating theoretical material on teaching method and theory with practical experience of lesson delivery: 1500 words: 25%.
Prescribed Texts:

Specialist printed materials will be made available from Melbourne Law School.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete the Street Law program will have developed and demonstrated:

  • Sophisticated skills in oral communication, and an advanced ability to observe, evaluate, interpret and transmit an analysis of a discrete legal issue to a non-law audience;
  • An ability to identify the requirements of a specific audience and tailor a presentation so as to deliver an effective and accessible lesson in a specific area of law;
  • An advanced capacity for critical and independent thought and reflection, in particular to reflect critically on the relevance of specialised areas of law for young people in Victoria;
  • Advancement of the discipline of legal teaching theory and practice by integrating theoretical knowledge with practical experience in lesson delivery; and
  • The ability to learn from encountering different perspectives, and to recognise the extent to which students’ own beliefs, values and experiences inform their understanding of the purpose and relevance of public legal education and legal literacy.
  • This subject has a quota of 20 students (enrolment via competitive application process).
  • NB: All students selected into this subject will need to complete a 'Working with Children' check.

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