A young lawyer and committee member of Young Lawyers in South Australia was our winner..
I won't name her - but I hope that she and her friends had a great night.
Her slogan was "Foolkit - the sharpest legal tool in your kit" and she suggested a T Shirt design.
Plain English Lexicon (link is in the last line) is a free download. It is a guide as to whether or not your words will be understood and suggests alternative plain English words.
None of these dictionaries are Australian. They are also not as accurate as the services available by subscription from the Australian legal publishers.
An excellent book on improving writing skills for everyone in a legal office is English Essentials - "The wouldn't-be-without-it guide to writing well". It is written by Mem Fox and Lyn Wilkinson and published by Macmillan.
Australian Law Students' Association
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Easily assembled in less time than a lecture!
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We set Master Fool the Challenge - visit every Court in the Country. Or fall apart trying.
Wikipedia says "...one of the oldest books on military strategy in the world. It is also one of the most famous studies of strategy and has had a huge influence on Eastern and Western military planning, business tactics, and beyond."
Foolkit would add "and to the strategies of clever lawyers"
Foolkit would also match this with a favourite, "Getting to Yes" by Fisher, Ury and Patton. That one you will have to buy.
From January 2011, you will be considered independent if you are 23 years of age or older.
From that date there are changes to the independence rules for students from outer regional and remote areas.
The Law Institute of Victoria has a page of information for Law Students.
This includes information on:
Student pro bono is where students provide or assist in the provision of services :
The most important single function of pro bono projects is to open a student's eyes to the ethical responsibility of lawyers to contribute their services.
Visit Foolkit's Pro bono page for more information.
My advice is based on my own experience. I ran my own legal practice for 30 years and employed many new lawyers.
Study hard. It may not be for another 10 or 20 years, but eventually a situation will arise where the answer will come to you from something that you heard in one lecture back at law school. You never get as much of chance to learn about the law once you leave law school. Learn the Legal Method. The way you are expected to solve legal problems in an assignment is the same method that lawyers use when they approach real life legal issues. Once you get the method, everything else comes so much easier. If your tutors don't like the way you answer your essays, then take this as a learning opportunity and find out how they would have tackled it.
Take your opportunities while you are young to broaden your education as much as possible. The Arts, Literature, Science, Sports, Religions, Travel ...... This all helps to make you a more rounded person and a better and more creative lawyer.
Clients hire lawyers to solve problems. They would prefer if it could be done without volumes of paperwork, court cases etc. The quicker and the less traumatic the better. These life experiences open you up to seeing more possibilities to helping the client - as well as helping you take a more holistic view of their legal situation.
Every family is different. How they expect people to behave, their values, how they respond to certain situations. You are in for a surprise if you think you can read your client or the opposition based on a very narrow experience of life. If you take a year off, look for jobs that involve working with a range of people. Travel if you can.
Take part in your community. Aside from the above, it adds to your CV. Great results don't differentiate you. I've met plenty of lawyers with great results but poor skills. I have also seen too many CV's where people talk up their personal attributes - but have no concrete examples to demonstrate it. If you want to tell me that you are a leader, then be part of the leadership of some organisation or team. If you want to tell me that you are interested in business - then keep up with current business events and do some study or work in something businesslike.
Before you apply for jobs, think about what sort of lawyer you want to be and what sort of firm you want to work for. Then talk to some friendly lawyers about what firms might be good targets for this. One of the traditions of the law is to help younger lawyers, so most will talk to you. Do not overlook firms outside of the City. Many people underestimate the range and quality of work that these firms do. Which is why you will have less competition for these positions.
Be pro-active in seeking employment or experience. Send out letters rather than emails or phone calls. You don't need an "old boys network" to get a job, but you should explore any social connections you might have and no matter how slight they may be.
Try and get a first job that will give you a range of experience. Firstly because too many lawyers end up staying in that first field of law for the rest of their life. Secondly, because it makes you a more rounded lawyer for your future career. That holds true even if you later get into a very specialised area of practice.
Stay out of trouble and be careful what you put on the internet. It will hang around to haunt you. Some jobs run a security check on you, the USA is fussy who they let visit, the Supreme Court only admits to practice people who are fit and proper people to be trusted to be a lawyer and HR departments are smart enough to dig into your background.
Never turn up to a job interview (or apply for a job) without first doing your homework on the firm. Not having read the firm web site is an automatic fail with me as it shows a total lack of initiative.
I like neat well presented letters. I know that clients like them, so you are already showing some perception and also it shows some ability with a word processor. Letters that are stilted legalese or have errors go lower on the pile than plain English letters. I'd rather have a short covering letter that cuts to the chase instead of a long letter that goes nowhere. Letters that don't address what are obvious issues (not meeting the criteria that the employer is likely to have, not explaining a poor work history - or living on the other side of the city) are also going lower on the pile.
We are looking for clever people who are likely to enjoy the work we offer and who will work well with our clients. If you have some disability, be frank about it and if you are the best person you will get the job.
Dress smartly and practice interviews with older people (or your friends). We don't mind you being nervous at the start of an interview. Talk to the receptionist while you are waiting for an interview if you feel like it. Otherwise, stay alert and try and soak up some of the atmosphere.
Good luck and I wish you a long and rewarding career.