Faculty of Law
The Auckland Law School's Community Placement Programme aims to enrich the learning experience of law students by providing exposure to real life situations where the operation of law is best displayed.
- » Welcome to the Community Placement Programme
- » How does Community Placement work?
- » Organisations to consider
- » Student perspectives on Community Placement
- » Community Placement expectations
- » The Community Placement Coordinator - contact details
- » Points to remember
- » Community Placement Application form
Welcome to the Community Placement Programme
Community Placement is an opportunity for students to enhance their legal education and gain some practical experience. A number of students feel energised after completing their placement. After years of academic learning, the realities of working in a legal environment allows for a time of re-focus and confidence in their ability to complete their legal education and participate fully and effectively as lawyers.
A Community Placement may be completed as a substitute for one of the five written opinions required for LAW 499 L- Legal Practice. Students are required to undertake forty hours of voluntary work with a community group. This is normally over a period of one week and therefore most students prefer to do their placement during one of the semester breaks. Part III students should give serious thought to completing their placement over the long summer break, as there is a range of different time slots available and many more students can be accommodated. Students in their final year should attempt to complete their placement as early as possible in the year so as not to delay enrolment for Professionals or create Graduation difficulties.
It is hoped that your placement will be a rewarding experience for you and the participating placement organisation.
Without limiting the scope of the placements the following list encompasses many of the ideas behind community placement. It is hoped that by the completion of the community placement some or many of these objectives will have been achieved:
- Seeing law in its social, political and cultural context
- Experiencing the interaction between law and the community
- Seeing the justice system in operation and seeing its failures and successes
- Gaining insight into the often complex problems which are presented to the legal profession e.g. medico-legal problems and the ways in which the lawyer can deal with these problems e.g. the use of inter-disciplinary methods
- Experiencing areas of law not likely to be involved in again
- Practical application of law already learnt
- Build contacts between the legal and para-legal communities of our neighbouring countries e.g. Fiji placements
- Experience of law as a service profession
- Considering alternatives to traditional legal careers
- Exposure to areas not otherwise available to the public e.g. Prisons/Government Departments
- Gaining contacts which may be helpful in later working life
- Development of interpersonal skills (not necessarily legal)
- Gaining insight and empathy with people
- Experience of the norms of different cultures and ethnic groups
- Enhancement of life experiences and therefore bringing more into the practice of law
- Exploring areas of interest
- Recognition of the shortage of resources in the community e.g. funding/political issues
- Giving back to the community - students can be regarded a resource for under-funded and under-resourced groups
- Provision of energetic, intelligent students to often under-funded groups
- Gaining knowledge of helping agencies
Students first need to think about what their top three placement preferences would be. A list of organisations to consider can be found here
If a student has a particular interest in an area, which is not adequately covered by the organisations listed, they may discuss this with the co-ordinator and other organisations may be considered.
If the placement is organised through a student’s own contact, this must be approved by the co-ordinator before being proceeded with. Students must not begin working for a placement group unless they have received written or verbal approval from the co-ordinator.
An enrolment form (found below) will need to be submitted to the Community Placement Coordinator at least 1 month before the time of the intended placement. However please note that some placements require an application process and will have a deadline for this (e.g. just before exams). To avoid disappointment please look into this as soon as possible.
On receipt of the enrolment form the Community Placement Coordinator will seek to organise the placement and will liaise with the student.
Before the placement begins, the student must attend an orientation meeting with the Community Placement Coordinator. At this meeting, general housekeeping information and specific placement organisation material will be disseminated and issues such as confidentiality will be discussed.
Attending the placement
Following the orientation meeting, students will attend the placement and complete forty hours of work for the placement organisation. This work may consist of legal research, drafting of opinions or submissions, client interviewing, answering telephone inquiries, or other work as directed by your supervisor. The nature of the work will vary with the type of placement organisation.
At the end of the placement, students may request an evaluation of their performance from their placement supervisor. The evaluation can be on the forms provided, or by way of a separate written appraisal or both.
After the completion of the placement, the student must write a report answering the list of specific questions given to the student at the orientation meeting. The report should not exceed 1000 words and should be reflective and well-reasoned. This report is to be given to the Co-ordinator BEFORE making an appointment to attend a feedback meeting with the Co-ordinator in order to discuss, compare and contrast their experiences.
The student should schedule a feedback meeting with the coordinator for one week after the report has been submitted. This meeting is an opportunity to discuss, compare and contrast the experiences had by the student.
The Community Placement Programme is graded on a pass/fail basis and all of the steps above must be completed.
Organisations to consider
Student perspectives on Community Placement
"I worked for one week at the Mangere Community Law Centre. The Centre provides a valuable service to the community by providing free legal advice and representation. My main responsibility was legal research. I was also present during meetings with the clients and had an opportunity to attend the District Court.
At the Law Centre I was able to experience the actual hardship people face when they encounter problems related to law. The Law Centre makes a huge effort to educate the community by making them aware of their rights and accordingly try to narrow social inequality. During the placement I had time to reflect on the importance of legal knowledge I have gained through my law studies. The placement offered me an opportunity to share this knowledge with the wider community that comes to the Law Centre seeking help. I regard my experience at the Mangere Law Centre as the most valuable legal experience I have got so far."
“The community placement programme gave me the opportunity to get a rare insight into the way communities work and how they interact with the law. My placement gave me the chance to see how the law effected a community that I was not familiar with. It is an experience that all law students should have as it challenges our perspective of the laws affect within society. A community placement gives context to your degree irrespective of your specialty and is an engaging experience that you will never forget. My community placement with the Manurewa police was one of the most memorable endeavours of my degree.”
Community Placement expectations
For many students, community placement may be their first venture into a community based working environment. As future members of the legal community, it is expected that you will undertake your placement with a requisite degree of seriousness, enthusiasm and resourcefulness. The people you encounter in your placement may very well be the same people you will encounter later in your legal career.
Each organisation has its own individual style, with some being more formal than others. The name of your supervisor will have been contained in the placement advice letter sent to you. In the week prior to commencement of your placement, you should contact the supervisor and discuss matters such as dress and starting and finishing times.
Your supervisor will allocate your assignments. In a really busy organisation you may have to be proactive in determining an area of involvement until your supervisor can find time to assign specific tasks. A check of the library or community resource information may provide some insight into the organisation's activities.
You are not expected to have the practical abilities of an experienced lawyer. However your legal training and organisational abilities are important components of your placement. If any problems, questions or concerns arise during your placement, you should discuss them, in the first instance, with your supervisor. This includes any need for a change of schedule.
If you have a problem that you feel that you cannot discuss with your placement supervisor, you should feel free to contact the Community Placement Co-ordinator Tessa Sillifant.
The Community Placement Coordinator - contact details
The Community Placement Coordinator is located in the Law School Student Centre (Building 810). Please email Tessa Sillifant (firstname.lastname@example.org) to make an appointment.
Community Placement is fun and educational - It also gives you that precious opinion credit. Students who have completed their placements really do come back and say that now they think they will enjoy being a lawyer. So come and check it out - you might even have some fun.
Think about the Community placements, plan ahead, complete the CP application form (available below) and email Tessa for an appointment.
Law School Student Centre
Building 810, Room 240
Points to remember
The community placement programme is graded on a pass/fail basis. In order to gain a pass a student needs to have:
- Completed an enrolment form in plenty of time
- Received confirmation from the co-ordinator of the place and time of their placement and attended an orientation meeting.
- Contacted the supervisor (details provided in the placement advice letter) one week prior to the commencement of the placement to discuss matters such as dress and start and finish times.
- Undertaken the placement requirements for a period of forty hours in a professional and conscientious manner and to the satisfaction of their supervisor
- Completed a well-reasoned, reflective report based on the questions contained in the orientation material and have handed this report into the co-ordinator one week before their feedback meeting
- Arranged an appointment for, and attended a feedback meeting with the co-ordinator
Please note: Most organisations will only take one student per week. During the teaching year there are only six weeks of holidays, so plan ahead and get your applications in as soon as possible.