A new program for junior lawyers aimed at exposing them to legal aid work in both the city and regional areas is giving those not drawn to corporate law a kick-start to their career.
The New Lawyers Program, run by Victoria Legal Aid, is midway through its inaugural year and, thus far, those involved in the program are giving it the thumbs up.
Commencing in September last year, the program is designed to give lawyers in their first two years of practice an insight into a diverse range of legal issues, as well as the opportunity to experience life in regional Victoria.
Aimee Cooper, a Latrobe University graduate and one of 12 lawyers on the program, told Lawyers Weekly that the program has exceeded her expectations and opened her eyes to numerous opportunities in both metropolitan and regional areas.
"I never had any designs on corporate law or private practice. When I was looking at jobs I was looking at Legal Aid or a Community Legal Centre or some form of law reform work," she said.
"This program really appealed because I was going to have the opportunity to practice in a huge range of areas of law and gain a whole lot of different experiences around legal aid throughout the state."
Cooper has already completed a rotation in Shepparton and is now placed in the Melbourne suburb of Preston. She has worked on matters including criminal, family, civil and human rights law, and is regularly given the chance to represent clients in court.
"It's really important to me that the work I do is contributing to the community.I'm really passionate about social justice issues and human rights so working for an organisation like Legal Aid sits very well with my own values."
The New Lawyers Program is offered to first and second year lawyers over two years and successful applicants will spend at least six months in the regional centres of Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Horsham, Shepparton or Warrnambool.