Global law firm DLA Piper has delivered the latest edition of its Pacific Island teaching program in collaboration with client, Westpac New Zealand.
The Pacific Island teaching program was launched in 2017 and was created to empower the next generation of lawyers with the legal skills required to establish and further pro bono practices in their home countries.
Lawyers from DLA offices in Australia and New Zealand worked with the University of South Pacific (USP) to provide legal education to law students from countries in the Pacific islands. They provided practical training to law students to improve their legal and soft skills to prepare them for the working world.
The global firm was keen to enhance the offering to USP students, and decided to collaborate with a client for the first time. DLA stated they invited Westpac due to their “commitment to community impact – investing in, and partnering with, local communities to support economic and social development”.
“The opportunity was a natural fit for Westpac, which lists inclusion as one of the key priority areas it focuses on,” said the firm.
Sukhjit Gill, a senior lawyer at Westpac, joined the DLA team to teach the course. She offered unique insights to students from her perspective as an in-house lawyer working across the Asia-Pacific region.
Ms Gill stated: “The week was so energising, and it was such a treat to be able to share our knowledge and experiences with these students.
“Seeing the students develop so much confidence in just one short week was extremely rewarding. Their passion for the law and their desire to help others took me right back to law school and was a good reminder of the reason I chose to be a lawyer.”
Asia-Pacific pro bono director of DLA Catriona Martin commented: “Students gained valuable insights from listening to the different perspectives and learnings of lawyers from Australia and New Zealand.
“We were delighted to partner with Westpac on this program,” Ms Martin said. Ms Gill’s expertise “added another dimension to the course and expanded the students’ horizons about what a career in law can be.”
Laura Scampion, country managing partner for DLA New Zealand, commented on the collaboration with Westpac: “By working together, we can have even more positive impact across our communities.”