Public Interest Law Clinic

Subject LAWS50116 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 5 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 24-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 30-Sep-2015
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 18-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 30-Sep-2015
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

This subject has a quota of 60 students (30 students per stream). Applicants are selected through a competitive application process. Please refer to the Melbourne Law JD website for further information.

Taught on campus and through a clinical placement at a host organisation.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 121 hours comprising 2 days of orientation, 12 days of clinical placement, 16 hours of seminars
Total Time Commitment:

180 hours


Only approved applicants can enrol into this subject. Please see above for information on how to apply for this subject, application due dates, etc.

Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Semester 1
Semester 1
Semester 2
Semester 2
Semester 2
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
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:

  • The ability to attend classes and actively engage in the analysis of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • 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 inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact Student Equity and Disability Support.


Ms Kate Fischer-Doherty


Graduate Services Coordinator (Work Integrated Learning)

Phone: +61 3 8344 4475

Subject Overview:

This subject provides practical experience in which students support lawyers in public interest organisations in the delivery of legal services to the community. Students will undertake 12 days of clinical placement with a partner organisation in the community or government sector. On placement, and under supervision, students will utilise the legal knowledge and skills acquired during their degree to undertake work on legal issues with real clients, and in doing so, will be exposed to the realities of legal practice. The placement will be through regular, scheduled attendances throughout semester.

Prior to commencing with their host organisation, students will participate in two days of intensive orientation to prepare for their placement, including learning new legal practice skills and about specific areas of law where relevant. This will be complemented by seminars during the placement period. In these seminars, students will reflect on their ongoing clinical experience. This combination of practical placement and academic support will allow students to consider and reflect on the broader contexts in which legal issues arise, the lawyer's role and relationship with the delivery of justice and contemporary developments in professional practice.

A central component of the subject is that students critically reflect on their practical experience of public interest lawyering. The reflection serves several purposes. First, it gives students the opportunity to consider how the issues and ideas raised in the context of public interest lawyering are reflected in their practical experience in this area of law. On an individual level, it also provides students with the opportunity to reflect on their own use of legal skills, knowledge and approach to practice and consequently build on these skills, knowledge and competencies.

Learning Outcomes:

A student who successfully completes this subject will have a sophisticated insight into, and be able to reflect critically and meaningfully on:

  • The practical and technical skills and ethical awareness needed to practise effectively in the public interest sector, including in the areas of research, advocacy, communication, file management and organisation;
  • The ethical questions which arise from practising public interest law;
  • The scope, composition, capacity, limits and challenges of the legal assistance sector in Australia;
  • The techniques of public interest lawyering and the differences between public interest lawyering and other forms of lawyering;
  • The capacity of law and lawyers to create social, economic and political change.
  • Attendance at all orientation and clinic sessions and satisfactory performance on placement (hurdle requirement);
  • Oral presentation, in weeks 9-12 of semester (15%);
  • Reflective journal (25%);
  • Legal writing, at end of semester (60%).

The due date of the above assessment will be available to students via the LMS.

Prescribed Texts:
  • Kate Williams et al, Reflective Writing (Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2012);
  • Specialist printed materials will also be made available from the Melbourne Law School.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

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

Upon successful completion of the subject, students will have developed and demonstrated the following skills:

  • Interpersonal and communication skills to gather information, understand context, and convey legal concepts to a non-legal audience (including clients) in a way that is useful and effective;
  • Cognitive skills in understanding the significance of the interrelationship of facts and law, and an appreciation of the place for legal and non-legal responses to clients' problems;
  • Cognitive and technical skills relating to the generation and provision of legal advice and information attuned to clients' needs;
  • Skills required for effective workplace performance, such as communication, time management, and office organisation;
  • Ability to work cooperatively and professionally in a legal assistance organisation; and
  • Ability to engage in analysis and critical reflection on a range of challenging questions arising from practical legal experience in the public interest sector.
Related Course(s): Juris Doctor

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