Professional development

We provide training, development and support for our lawyers (and other staff who work directly with clients, where appropriate) through:

  • professional support lawyers (including precedents, legislative updates and practice resources)
  • ongoing professional legal education
  • specialist accreditation support, including study groups and materials.

Professional legal education includes training on priority topics for each practice area delivered face-to-face and online, as well as topics that span the compulsory fields of continuing professional development. We also provide targeted internal and external training opportunities to our lawyers, with selected activities extended to community legal centres and panel practitioners.

This year we continued to work with the Children’s Court and the Department of Health and Human Services to deliver multi-disciplinary training and development events. This training assists court staff, child protection practitioners and lawyers to perform more effectively in areas including child protection and permanent care reforms, court practices and other changes to the law.

New Lawyers Program

Our New Lawyers Program attracts and retains high quality first and second year lawyers and provides the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively represent our unique and diverse clients.

Participants are selected through a rigorous and highly competitive process and after two years in the program are placed as legal vacancies emerge. Through this, the program supports agile and streamlined recruitment into lawyer roles, complementing our regular recruiting practices.

Since the first intake in September 2010, 54 lawyers have participated in the New Lawyers Program, with an average retention rate of 80 per cent. Most participants are now in ongoing roles in our offices across Victoria.

Of the 10 participants who commenced the 2013 program, four have been placed in ongoing roles at Victoria Legal Aid. The remaining six are filling vacancies on contracts while we identify appropriate ongoing roles.

New lawyers recruited in 2014 participated in placements across our programs and offices, including our Warrnambool, Ballarat, Geelong, Morwell and Bendigo offices.

The program continues to attract high calibre junior lawyers and provides Victoria Legal Aid with a skilled pool of talent ready to deliver legal services across our offices.

Law student opportunities and training placements

We continued to meet our statutory obligation to provide opportunities for law students to obtain experience in legal aid work. In 2014–15 we hosted:

  • 25 students from the University of Melbourne and 15 students from Victoria University completed the Family Law Internship Program

  • 14 students from the Australian Catholic University and 12 students from Melbourne Law School who completed training in our Civil Justice Program. One student completed their Practical Legal Training and four completed work experience

  • seven students from the Leo Cussen Centre for Law who completed their three-week professional placements at offices in Melbourne, Ringwood, Sunshine, Dandenong and Geelong

  • 18 students from Deakin University who assisted with court clerking at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court and the Infringements Clinic

  • two students from Chisholm TAFE who shadowed lawyers from Moorabbin Justice Centre

  • two students from Deakin University who assisted duty lawyers with court clerking at the Geelong Magistrates’ Court for 12 weeks

  • 24 students from Victoria University who assisted duty lawyers with court clerking at the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court and Werribee Magistrates’ Court

  • 15 students from Deakin University who assisted duty lawyers with clerking at Ringwood Magistrates’ Court

  • 10 students from Deakin University and Monash University who assisted with court clerking at the Frankston Magistrates’ Court and Moorabbin Justice Centre in criminal law and family violence matters. Four students also received training in infringements

  • five students from the Leo Cussen Centre for Law who completed clinical trainee placements at our Broadmeadows office, and attended Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court in relation to criminal and family violence matters

  • three students from the Australian National University, Deakin University and the University of South Australia who assisted duty lawyers with court clerking at local courts in the Wimmera region

  • four secondary students who shadowed lawyers from our Horsham office at court

  • five law and secondary school students who completed work experience at our Morwell office

  • two students from Monash University who assisted at our Family Dispute Resolution Service.