King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) and The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Law Faculty have announced the launch of an internship program specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying law at the university.
The new Pathways Program is the result of an intensive ‘design-thinking’ style workshop held by KWM and attended by a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, who were asked to identify what their ideal internship looked like.
The workshop was used to ensure that practical education opportunities offered by the firm, an important aspect of a law degree, resulted in a relevant and tailored learning experience.
The purpose built program will feature 15-day paid internships that offer Indigenous students the flexibility required to continue their study, while also meeting other external commitments. Students will also be able to choose their preferred working days, legal practice areas of interest and participate in additional networking experiences.
Also supporting the Pathways Program are key KWM clients and community partners, AGL Energy, Tabcorp and the Human Rights Law Centre, who are offering secondments or professional networking opportunities within their organisations.
These secondments will provide students the chance to gain industry specific legal experience and ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law graduates are well placed to secure employment in their chosen field upon the completion of their studies.
Four students will be selected to take part in the inaugural program at KWM’s Sydney offices. Upon completion of the pilot, Pathways will be expanded to include the firm’s other offices around Australia.
Head of KWM’s Pro Bono and Community Impact program, Dan Creasey, said that the Pathways Program showed the progression of legal internships to meet the changing workplace as well as addressing the barriers to entry faced by a lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
“The program is about providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with the chance to engage directly with the industry throughout the course of their degree and ensuring they have the best possible experience when interning at KWM. It is a step in the right direction with regard to a greater representation of Indigenous Australians in our profession.”
UTS Law Associate Dean, Maxine Evers says the UTS Law degree is particularly focussed on the practical and the Pathways program is a perfect fit.
“We have a strong reputation for practical and professional learning through our course work and our partnership programs. We are also committed to embedding Indigenous learning across all our courses as well as assisting our Indigenous students reach their full potential.”
Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre said: “For too long Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been excluded from Australian legal systems and this has contributed to the harm that legal systems have caused them. This excellent initiative will help to address this. The co-designed process in particular should be commended. We’re proud to be part of Pathways and look forward to welcoming the students to the Human Rights Law Centre.”
KWM launched Pathways at a collaborative event in their Sydney offices this week. The pilot program will kick off in August and internships will be run until the conclusion of the university semester in November this year.