Over 180 VCE Legal Studies students engaged with prominent legal figures at Metropolitan Law Talks, a one-day intensive study skills workshop. Run in partnership with RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice, Metropolitan Law Talks aims to bring the law to life for students and optimise their VCE Legal Studies results.
The day was a great success, with positive feedback throughout from teachers and students, some of whom had travelled from country Victoria to attend the program. It is a reflection of the strength and value of the Law Talks program that schools who participate in our Regional Law Talks intensives are prepared to make such an effort to have their students attend the metropolitan program as well.
The day started with an inspiring talk by Rob Hulls, a former Victorian Attorney-General (now Director of the Centre for Innovative Justice). Hulls spoke about his own career and passion for alternative forms of dispute resolution, and for diversion programs that can keep offenders out of prison and give them a better chance in life. He urged students not to judge offenders too quickly, and to bear in mind the complex factors involved in offending.
The goodwill of our speakers who participate in Law Talks, and the pleasure they get from speaking to students, was demonstrated by Juries Commissioner, Paul Dore, who had just returned to work after extended leave, but was still determined to present at this program having missed Law Week Law Talks.
The aim of the Law Talks program is to engage students, but also to be relevant to the VCE Legal Studies curriculum. Eve Gallagher from the Victorian Law Reform Commission gave a stimulating presentation focused on the material and kinds of questions students were likely to be examined on, and the foundation’s Teacher-in-Residence, David Thomson, provided his usual wisdom on exam preparation and techniques.
We also aim to make sure Law Talks is interactive and to encourage participation from the students, who are urged to ask questions at the end of each session. After lunch, the students were split into two groups, participating in the National Trust of Australia (Victoria)’s award-winning culpable driving courtroom drama at the Old Magistrates’ Court, and then hearing a presentation from David Leonard of the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria on mediation. This presentation was very timely as the topic of the students’ next SAC is the evaluation of methods of resolving civil disputes. We very much appreciated David giving up his afternoon to present twice.
You could tell the audience was engaged by the number and variety of questions asked by the students. Speakers answered questions about what it was like to be a young lawyer working with the Indigenous community in Mount Isa, whether the use of medicinal marijuana was likely to be extended to other medical conditions, the significance of jurors having prior knowledge of matters they had to consider in evidence, and what was the strangest ever dispute they had to mediate. The list could go on …
While Metropolitan Law Talks is over for 2016, I am looking forward to taking Regional Law Talks to Wangaratta in August, and to engaging with a range of Year 11 and 12 students from a variety of schools across the region.
For more information on our school programs, please contact our Education Manager, Fabiola Superina, on (03) 9604 8100 or email.