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Policy internship creates career inroads for law student

A winter placement with the NSW Law Reform Commission has opened the world of policy up to one young student.

Kate Lilly’s CV boasts a number of internships relevant to the double degree which she has committed six years of her young life.

Her experiences, which include a social justice placement as part of the Aurora Internship Program and a journalism gig writing for Justinian, have been interesting and diverse.

The journalism-law student, who is dusting off her final subjects at the University of Technology Sydney, spoke to Lawyers Weekly about her recent work for the NSW Law Reform Commission and how the experience revealed a love for policy research.

“You are quite focused on one project rather than jumping between different matters. It was quite self-directed, which was different to some of my previous experiences,” Ms Lilly said.

“And it’s nice that you get quite substantive work to do rather than photocopying or getting coffees,” she said.

Ms Lilly was recruited along with four other students for a four-week winter placement with the commission last June. The interns were briefed with their own unique projects as part of wider work being done by the state justice department, which included academic and empirical research.

“I was working largely on a question paper that was to do with consent to medical treatment,” Ms Lilly said.

“I did a lot of research across different jurisdictions and put together a draft for my supervisor, which was eventually published as a question paper and that the commission [ultimately] receives submissions on,” she said.

After a time doing research for a review of the Guardianship Act 1987 (NSW), the commission offered ongoing part-time work to the law student until the end of 2017. That particular NSW review remains ongoing.

“I received a brief at the start of the internship and worked away on that for my month-long placement, with support and feedback from our supervisor.

“I found it was really engaging work and so I was really happy to stay on,” she said.

The final-year law student is in the process of applying for graduate jobs in government policy departments. She said her time with the commission had inspired her to seek out similar opportunities after graduation.

“I didn’t have a lot of policy experience, but I was interested in policy work as an alternative to perhaps going into corporate law,” Ms Lilly said.

“I’m hoping to do an honours thesis next semester and I should be all finished by that stage. Then I’d love to do some more policy work.”

The next round of applications for a 2017 winter internship with the NSW Law Reform Commission will close on Sunday, 30 April. Law students in their second-last and final year of study are invited to apply. 


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