Reflections from Pro Bono Paralegal

  • Media
December 11,2020
Working in the Pro Bono team at Colin Biggers & Paisley has provided me with an incredible opportunity to gain experience across a variety of areas of law. As a fifth year Law and Business student studying at the University of Queensland, this experience has been invaluable. As I head into the final semesters of my degree, I am starting to properly consider what areas of law I am most interested in and what my future career may look like.  Working in the Pro Bono team has greatly assisted in this process.

Whilst  working in  the Pro Bono team, I have had the opportunity to work  on a range of matters, and each have been incredibly rewarding. One matter I particularly enjoyed working on was for an organisation called Change the Record, which involved research into the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) across Australia. My involvement in the matter included researching what pieces of legislation would need to be amended in each state and territory for the MACR to be raised from 10 to 14, and summarising the scientific and legal supporting evidence. I also drafted memos outlining research indicating that the current MACR (10 years old) disproportionately affects Indigenous people and contributes to the disempowerment facing the Indigenous community. This was of particular interest to me. It was great to see our work contribute to the MACR being raised in the ACT to 14 years of age. I hope we soon see this across all other states and territories.

Other matters I have worked on have included  research into Victoria's controversial changes to the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act which made it an offence for some sexual assault victims and survivors in Victoria to publish their own identities. The matters I have worked on were all very different and each provided me with a chance to research a different area of law. In general, all the matters have given me a chance to help individuals, and I have found this very rewarding.

As part of the team, I have also had the chance to work on various internal projects related to Inclusion & Diversity. In particular, I have helped research and draft LGBTIQ+ inclusion strategies, as well as internal communications marking significant days such as NAIDOC week and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. I have also assisted in drafting a Supplier Code of Conduct in relation to Modern Slavery.

Overall, my experience in the Pro Bono team has given me a fascinating insight into various areas of law and I am very grateful for the experience. It has inspired me to continue exploring different areas of law.