Law students have praised the 2011 Australian Law Students' Association (ALSA) conference for opening their eyes to careers outside the corporate law sector.
This year's conference, in its 33rd year, featured a careers fair offering insight into a vast array of professions available to law students.
Murdoch University student Liz Wills said the fair, which featured 14 stall holders, was the highlight of the seven-day conference and that she was still reading material she collected from it.
"I'm now closer to deciding what I really want to do with my law degree. I got interested in commercial law and an opportunity to work with the United Nations in different countries. I also realised pro bono work would be great," she told Lawyers Weekly.
University of Technology student Angie Piao, in her third year of Medical Science/Law, also found the educational forums run at the conference "inspiring" and "eye-opening".
"One of the things I have learned is that a career in the corporate sector is not the only choice, and I am keen to explore other options like community and pro bono work," she said.
The forums featured high-profile experts in the field speaking on topics including Beyond Corporate Careers, Online Censorship and Legal Reforms for Gay, Lesbian, Trans and Queer (GLBTIQ) People.
Tim Hitches, a final-semester law student at the University of Adelaide, said he particularly appreciated the Beyond Corporate Careers forum, as well as the networking opportunities with other law students which the ALSA conference offered.
"I am especially interested in alternative dispute resolution as a career path, and I'm glad to have met other students at the conference with the same interest," he said.
The ALSA conference was also enjoyed by law students from abroad, particularly as it offered the chance to explore Sydney, and saw some fierce competition between students as they fought it out in mooting and interviewing competitions.
First-time competitor Hitches represented the University of Adelaide in the client interviewing competition and, while his team did not get past the preliminary rounds, he said it was "definitely an educational experience".
"Every judge came from a different background and had a different perspective to offer. If I do come back it would definitely be as a competitions judge! That way I can put future competitors through the same ordeal we went through ... Actually, I'd probably be really nice and pass on all the useful advice our own judges gave us," he said.
This year's competitions saw the University of Otago take out the national championship moot and the client interview competition, the University of Melbourne win the IHL moot, the University of Auckland come up trumps in witness examination, Macquarie University beat the field in negotiation, and Flinders University take the cake in paper presentation: