28 February 2014
The University of the Sunshine Coast’s first cohort of Law students is set to benefit greatly from an agreement signed today by USC and the Suncoast Community Legal Service.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding, Law students from USC will work at the legal service, assisting staff and volunteer lawyers as they provide advice and case work services to disadvantaged people.
The legal service – which has 85 volunteer lawyers and 35 volunteer receptionists – will soon move to a larger, more central location in Maroochydore where it will share premises with the University.
The agreement was signed by USC’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill and the legal service’s Vice-President Peta Yujnovich and Principal Solicitor Julian Porter.
USC’s Professor of Law Neil Rees said this exciting arrangement would provide students with expert supervision and an enriched educational experience.
“Our students will be doing some of the legwork, but experienced lawyers from the Community Legal Service will supervise everything they do and make all of the final decisions about legal advice and assistance,” he said.
“The University has also employed a member of academic staff to take charge of the clinical education program and to devote a portion of her time to working for Suncoast’s clients.”
Suncoast Community Legal Service Principal Solicitor Julian Porter said the agreement provided “wins” for the legal service, the University and the Sunshine Coast community.
“The students will receive the sort of hands-on experience they need to complement their theoretical training,” he said. “At the same time, they’ll be meeting real local lawyers and making connections for the future.”
He said the arrangement would increase the legal service’s capacity to provide more than advice to its clients.
“When our volunteer lawyers identify an appropriate matter, there will be people on deck ready to help with the case. Plus, with the new premises, we’ll have the room we need to take on new projects and provide even more services.”
The University is offering Law for the first time this year, with classes starting on Monday 3 March.
USC’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the University’s partnership with the legal service would help equip USC’s Law students with important knowledge and skills for their future careers.
“With such a great tradition of volunteerism among the local legal profession, it makes complete sense to get our students involved at the ground level in the Community Legal Service,” he said.
— Terry Walsh