Practical Legal Trainee experience at IARC

Sidney   completed a Juris Doctor at UTS

My experience at IARC during the duration of my PLT has ultimately forged my understanding and challenged my preconceived notions on what a legal practitioner undertakes daily in the work place. I have truly learned the value and core principles of time management including that of a collaborative workspace at IARC. The positive working environment at IARC and ‘open door policy’ of the lawyers was a nurturing and beneficial one in which I felt confident enough to ask questions when I didn’t have the answers, also confronting my initial preconceptions that being a lawyer was a solitary and isolating journey. My ideas on the client-lawyer relationship have also been realised, as undertaking my PLT meant I grew familiar with regular and new clients. What I particularly found crucial in my own unique experience, was the fine line one must toe daily between the distinct difference in being a lawyer to that of a counsellor, therapist and friend and forging those boundaries in place to one of a strictly professional relationship. I have witnessed the lawyers at IARC finesse their roles as lawyers without short-changing clients of empathy and compassionate understanding to the countless harrowing stories which are spoken of daily. I also value my oral and written communication skills differently having worked in a CLC whose clientele are predominantly marginalised, vulnerable individuals where English may not be their first language. I routinely communicate with IARC’s Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) clients through the use of Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS) via telephone. This service crucially ensures all the confidential information I verbalise over the phone or in person is sufficiently translated through an independent third party, the interpreter, who can accurately translate the content of my message. This service at IARC alone ensures that despite the myriad of barriers CALD clients may face, navigating a foreign legal system with English as a Second Language will not impede their access to justice. I have observed the lawyers at IARC appreciate the effect of tone and the content of their messages whilst appreciating silence and non-verbal communication in their clients which is imperative for successfully dispensing advice and having the client properly understand the advice being given.

The amalgamation of my experiences over the course of a year at IARC are too plenty to boil down to one example alone. The myriad of my experiences have been a holistic one, which have at times been more than challenging but nevertheless fruitful in influencing my future actions as a legal practitioner in the years to come. My experiences have ranged from dealing with vulnerable CALD clients from marginalised backgrounds, women suffering from domestic violence, clients who have been homeless, including sitting in on countless interviews with clients observing the lawyers conduct themselves and the interview in an orchestrated way to benefit the client. These experiences have emphasised to me the significance of being both a level headed lawyer who plans distinct courses of actions for their clients whilst also maintaining empathy for these group of people who have fled unfathomable persecutions from home, whether overseas or during their stay in Australia. I aspire to behave in a manner akin to those of the lawyers at IARC who have given me this privileged opportunity to work alongside them for over a year in a collegial, supportive and positive workspace.  have learned the value of being a truly empathetic person in a legal setting whilst also maintaining a high level of professionalism and integrity by observing the lawyers at IARC in their day-to-day activities.