PUBLISHED IN DOWNTOWN MAGAZINE, ISSUE 28 | Words by Allison Clark
Six years ago, I was like so many kids across the state sweating my way through the final stages of high school, nervously waiting for my HSC results so that the next chapter of my life could officially begin.
I remember feeling like my entire future was anchored on my ATAR score, particularly because I knew that I wanted to do a double degree in Law and Arts majoring in Social Justice at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Coming from rural NSW, that meant some massive changes were heading my way.
The thought of leaving home and becoming financially independent while studying full time in Australia’s most expensive city is daunting for a barely 18-year-old, but I made the move.
The emergence of COVID last year put a spanner in the works for many students including myself, with most universities shifting to remote online learning during lockdown. This meant I now had the opportunity to move home to study and being in my fifth year of law, having the support of my family sounded great.
As luck would have it, while I was weighing up the pros and cons of moving home, Stacey McAllan Legal advertised a paid internship for a Law undergrad. For me, returning to my roots to work and study was too good an opportunity to pass up, so I applied and was successful. I made the move home within the week.
Returning to Gunnedah, taking up my law internship and studying online, has been exciting but also challenging. Managing full-time study remotely with part-time work in a busy firm has, at times, stretched me a little thin, but the pay-off has been well worth it. I find that what I am learning through my studies has greater context, and I can see how the theory is applied to real life matters.
MAKING A MEANINGFUL DIFFERENCE
In a regional firm, you are exposed to so many different cases and matters. No two days are the same – which is exactly how I like it! You also meet so many people who are often going through some of their toughest moments and are looking to you for genuine guidance and solutions.
It’s nice to be able to help alongside the solicitors in the firm to make a meaningful difference to someone’s life, or their experience with the legal system. I always knew that returning to regional NSW to practice law was something I wanted to do, I just wasn’t sure how I would do it. I guess that’s why they say it’s the journey not the destination that matters.
This year I will graduate with a Law degree and begin my Practical Learning Training (PLT) with College of Law. From there, I intend to practice Family Law and support my community in its efforts towards justice and equality.
For any student thinking about studying law remotely, here are my top five tips:
1. TREAT ONLINE LEARNING LIKE A JOB
Get ready for the day as you would if you were heading to a lecture in a real lecture hall – that means no pjs! Plan out your day with scheduled breaks and a finish time. Set small and achievable daily goals and stay committed to checking off your to-do list.
2. BUILD YOUR SUPPORT NETWORKS
Make sure you keep your communication lines open with your lecturers and peers. Having a good support network will help you to engage with your learning and help keep you focused and part of something bigger. Having good support at home will also help – for me it’s my Nan who is a constant source of motivation.
3. PRACTICE SELF-CARE
When you have control over your learning, it’s easy to get sucked into the learning void and to overdo things. Taking time to do things you love that are completely unrelated to your study will help you avoid burnout and keep you focused.
4. SECURE GOOD WIFI
Lags during lectures are really annoying, so having fast, reliable internet is 100 per cent critical to maintaining your sanity.
5. GET INVOLVED
Engaging with lectures and tutorials online can be a little awkward to start with, but practice does make perfect. Taking part in discussions just like you would in a normal classroom environment will help you feel a part of things and get more out of the experience.