18 December 2012

The opening of two new law clinics at The University of Queensland’s Pro Bono Centre is providing students more opportunities to develop skills through the University’s Clinical Legal Education (CLE) program.

UQ’s Pro Bono Centre offered 63 student places across its seven CLE clinics, including nine placements in the new Criminal Law Matters Clinic and Environmental Law Clinic, which opened this year.

Centre Director Monica Taylor said law students could look forward to more opportunities to take part in the CLE program next year.

“We plan to continue to offer places in all of our existing CLE clinics and will commence negotiations with a view to forming several new partnerships in the near future,” Ms Taylor said.

“A greater number of CLE clinics and our pro bono work, Manning St Project and community education program means the Centre will continue to provide high quality learning experiences for our students, as well as furthering access to justice for marginalised people in our community.”

Participation in UQ Pro Bono Centre activities offers law students a wide range of experiences, from working in a community legal centre to undertaking research or pro bono work for a variety of organisations that benefit the community.

Student places in the CLE program are dependent on financing from the Law School so donations are urgently needed to help cover the $1000 cost to fund at least one law student place at a community legal clinic.

Ms Taylor says donors to the Centre are encouraged to make a personal connection with their nominated project by meeting the students they support and seeing first-hand the valuable work they undertake.

“An investment in the Pro Bono Centre will ensure more students can participate in these transformative learning encounters and also make a significant difference to many people’s lives,” Ms Taylor said.

Examples of recent CLE projects undertaken by law students include help to establish a new mental health volunteer advocacy service at QPILCH, assisting clients at the Princess Alexandra Hospital regarding Involuntary Treatment Orders and research into income management programs for Centrelink recipients in Logan City.

The Environmental Law Clinic, run in partnership with the Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) offers students the opportunity to learn from EDO lawyers through the preparation of legal advice, community legal education materials and some court work.

Students working under the supervision of experienced criminal lawyers at the Criminal Law Matters Clinic undertake research and draft submissions for self-represented clients seeking to appeal their sentences.

They also visit Correctional Centres to interview and take instructions from clinic clients.

The clinic is run in partnership with Caxton Legal Centre and was funded in 2012 from a UQ Teaching and Learning grant.

For information about donating to the UQ Pro Bono Centre or how to sponsor a specific project, please visit law.uq.edu.au/giving

Media:Monica Taylor, Director, UQ Pro Bono Centre (07) 3365 6192 / 0431 866 344, m.taylor@law.uq.edu.au and Melissa Reynolds, TC Beirne School of Law 07 3365 2523, m.reynolds@law.uq.edu.au