Volunteering

CCLSWA has a volunteer program for law students in their penultimate or final year of their law studies or who have just completed their degree and are undertaking or wish to undertake practical legal training.

The program is highly regarded by students as excellent preparation to working in legal practice. However, due to the capacity of CCLSWA we can only take a limited number of volunteers at any one time.

To read a short review of CCLSWA’s volunteer induction programme, please see page 12 of the National Association of Community Legal Centre’s brochure, Working Smarter: Community Legal Centres using innovation and technology.

Selection Criteria

Applicants should meet the following criteria:

  • as a minimum be in their penultimate year of their law degree;
  • be able to commit to one day per week for a period of at least 6 months;
  • have strong written and verbal communication skills; and
  • have strong legal research skills

Please complete the form below, attach your resume and academic transcript, and submit the form.

Availability

Volunteers must commit to one day per week for a period of at least 6 months.

Please select the days you are available (you can indicate a preference)

 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Please outline the reason/s why you are applying to volunteer at CCLSWA and what you would like to get out of your experience with this organisation.

Attach Resume (required)

Attach Academic Transcript (required)

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Perspective from a Former Volunteer

As a law student, CCLSWA offered me inimitable practical experience working with a team dedicated to an admirable cause. The Service keeps the public up-to-date with news and current affairs through their website, which also provides consumers with fact sheets and sample letters to assist them in approaching banks and financial institutions.
CCLSWA also impacts the community through their Community Legal Education program, visiting schools in order to equip the next generation of consumers with a breadth of knowledge and skills.

As a volunteer, you will be expected to take instructions from clients, to draft real legal advice, and to deliver that advice back to the client. Where required, you will be expected to conduct legal research into contentious issues, and present the findings of that research directly to solicitors. You may also be required to draft letters and documents for case files.

Volunteering at CCLSWA gave me the opportunity to work extremely closely with experienced solicitors; an opportunity which is invaluable to law students. This allowed me to very quickly pick up the skills necessary to communicate effectively and efficiently with clients, and to draft and deliver legal advice.
The learning curve is a steep one, however the close watch of the solicitors allows volunteers to be confident in their work. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I highly recommend all law students looking to further their legal proficiency to apply.

Volunteer Testimonials

My name is Eamonn Bochat and I am a fifth year law student at the University of Notre Dame Australia. I commenced my time as a volunteer at CCLSWA in February and have no doubt it has been the most exciting and valuable part of my legal education.

The role of the volunteers of running the telephone advice line at CCLSWA is what motivated me to apply for a paralegal position. After my induction I immediately began answering calls from clients seeking advice. This proved to be a great test for my interviewing skills, which have since developed at a rapid rate during my time at CCLSWA. However, what I consider to be the best thing about volunteering is the perfect balance between the autonomy given to paralegals and the supervision by solicitors. Whilst being thrown in the deep end has been fantastic for developing my legal communication skills, the constant feedback I receive from the solicitors at CCLSWA has also enabled me to improve my understanding of the law and ability to draft sound advice.

My time at CCLSWA has opened my eyes to the widespread problem of financial hardship suffered by members of the public and has exposed me to the struggle many face which, before I began volunteering, I had never had to deal with it on a personal level. From my five months of volunteering I have noticed many of the problems our clients face are the result of poor financial decisions which could have been avoided with the proper education. That is why I have taken an avid interest in the Community Legal Education project CCLSWA runs in an attempt to prevent more people from finding themselves in financial difficulty. Not only do I get to embrace my passion for advocacy by presenting to schools about financial literacy, I am using my legal skills to make a difference in the community; making Community Legal Education an incredibly rewarding experience.

In a legal sense, volunteering at CCLSWA has been pivotal in my understanding of how to draft advice for real-life clients. Answering exam questions is completely different to advising a client in real-life, who is solely concerned with being told of what action they can take to fix their situation. Therefore providing realistic solutions is the most important part of providing appropriate advice. As a result I commonly advised clients to lodge complaints with the Department of Commerce of the relevant Ombudsman, as opposed to pursuing litigation which is far too costly and inefficient.

I would highly recommend CCLSWA to any law student as an amazing experience which will enhance their education, experience and contribution to the community.

My name is Megan Faller and I am a final year law student at the University of Notre Dame Australia. I am currently a volunteer paralegal at CCLSWA and have been for five months, commencing in February of this year.

The best aspect of volunteering with CCLSWA is without a doubt the practical legal skills and experience that you acquire. Volunteering at CCLSWA has provided me with the opportunity to work within a very close team of dedicated and knowledgeable solicitors who are not only passionate about the work that they do within the community, but have an avid desire to provide high quality training through the volunteer program.

The work at CCLSWA is certainly challenging and I have learned extremely valuable lessons from both a personal and professional perspective.

Personally, CCLSWA has opened my eyes to a number of prevalent issues within our community, in particular, the devastating effects that financial hardship can have on the most vulnerable members of our community.

Professionally, CCLSWA has been intrinsic in the development of my communication skills, in terms of being able to effectively and efficiently communicate with both clients and colleagues. This development has been further enhanced through my participation in CCLSWA’s Community Legal Education program, with presentations to high school students on financial literacy, and other organisations regarding the work that CCLSWA undertakes.

Volunteering at CCLSWA has been the best decision I have made in my legal education so far and it has been an exceptionally rewarding experience.

My name is Aarushi Garg and I was a volunteer paralegal at CCLSWA for two and a half years, from 2012 to 2015.

At CCLSWA I interacted with clients face-to-face and on the telephone advice line, gave clients legal advice which I had drafted myself (subject to solicitors’ checks), researched issues pertaining to law reform, presented to high school students as part of the community legal education program, and conducted file work. Through this work I learnt how to effectively analyse real-world issues, improved my public speaking skills, and gained confidence in the work I produced.

Through the ongoing support of hard-working, friendly and highly intelligent solicitors, CCLSWA offered me an unmistakable opportunity to learn and grow in a legal environment. The skills I developed through my work at CCLSWA have also held me in good stead with my current role as a graduate at ANZ.

If you like the sound of a fast-paced, challenging and rewarding legal experience, CCLSWA is definitely the place to go. I remember my time there fondly and cannot recommend it enough.

Aarushi Garg
Property Finance WA – Graduate
ANZ Corporate & Commercial Banking
15 July 2016

Between August 2014 and September 2015 I volunteered as a paralegal at Consumer Credit Legal Service. This experience has been an invaluable aspect of my legal education, and I have not once regretted my time spent there.

My commitment involved working with a team of paralegals and solicitors one day a week. This team is spearheaded by Faith Cheok, a highly experienced, competent and passionate lawyer and all-round sweetheart. Faith is an extremely flexible individual who understands the competing demands that students face, and I have never had a problem with booking time off over exams or for personal reasons.

The core task of volunteers is to take instructions from clients, draft advice (from scratch) and then deliver that advice once it has been checked over by solicitors. This framework provides an excellent opportunity for students to work closely with high calibre legal professionals and learn in a collaborative environment, while putting their own legal writing and analytical skills to the test. I found that everyone’s door is always open and that the team are happy to discuss any issues that you may be having no matter how busy they are.

From day one volunteers are given significant responsibility and are encouraged to take ownership of their clients. The initial learning curve is steep, however individuals who strive to constantly grow will find this, coupled with the centre’s supportive environment, both stimulating and engaging. My time spent on client engagements opened my eyes to the issues that disadvantaged consumers face. It has been inspiring to empower individuals with their legal rights, which they otherwise may not have been able to enforce. I have been fortunate enough to deal with a broad variety of clients from a range of different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds both in person, in prison and over the phone. Each of these client engagements has significantly boosted my oral communication skills, as well as a variety of professional soft skills, that I would otherwise not have been able to enhance.

When I commenced working at Consumer Credit Legal Service I had no background knowledge of consumer law or credit law, and this is not expected of paralegals. A year later, I have developed a deep respect for both the ACL and the NCC, the centre’s two core bibles. I have also enhanced my understanding of how the law works in practice on a holistic level, and this has heightened my insight and appreciation of the legal profession.

Outside of advising clients I have had the opportunity to deliver numerous educational presentations to high school students, draft a variety of letters and research memoranda, represent the centre at conferences and careers fares, and engage in professional development workshops. Each of these experiences has led to the development of a well-rounded skillset that is looked favourable on by employers.

I would highly recommend anyone considering joining Consumer Credit Legal Service to do so. The client exposure you receive, coupled with the support of their wonderful solicitors, is truly an invaluable experience that goes well over anything taught at university. I thank the team for their long-term investment in me.

My name is Blake Robinson and I am a recent law graduate from the University of Western Australia. I was fortunate enough to spend 12 months as a volunteer paralegal at CCLSWA before starting full time employment.

A volunteer position with CCLSWA is an invaluable opportunity for any student who enjoys problem solving and is seeking ‘hands on’ legal experience. During my time with CCLSWA I was able to gain extensive experience drafting legal advice, undertaking legal research, regularly engaging with clients and presenting information to groups of professional, all while working with experienced solicitors who were always happy to provide meaningful feedback. Through these collective experiences I was able to significantly develop my legal abilities and communication skills, as well as my ability to work effectively within a fast paced environment.

CCLSWA also managed to consistently provide me with new and exciting challenges through which I was able to further my own legal knowledge and legal interests. For example – in July/August 2015, I assisted with the research for and drafting of a submission on behalf of CCLSWA for the Australian Senate’s inquiry into matters relating to credit card interest rates.

Finally, CCLSWA is a great environment for those who are interested in social issues and who are looking to apply their legal skills to real life situations. CCLSWA provides an important and essential service to a wide range of disadvantaged individuals, and being a part of that service is extremely rewarding.

I am forever grateful for my time with CCLSWA and I could not recommend it any more highly.

My name is Anita Kousari. I am a recent law graduate from the University of Western Australia. I was a volunteer at CCLSWA between April 2014 and December 2015. Volunteering at CCLSWA has been one of the most memorable aspects of my law studies.

During my time at CCLSWA, I took instructions from clients, drafted advice for them, attended client meetings, presented community legal education sessions to different community groups and assisted the solicitors with their file work.

CCLSWA has a fast-paced, and at times challenging, environment. CCLSWA trains volunteers to think on their feet and to understand the importance of providing quality legal advice to disadvantaged individuals.

CCLSWA solicitors ensure the volunteers get the most out of their time and provide constructive feedback to us.

I am grateful for my time at CCLSWA and could not thank the staff and solicitors enough for everything that they have done for me.

Anita Kousari
Master of Laws (LLM) – University of Melbourne
Registration Officer- Financial Ombudsman Service
10 January 2016

I was a volunteer paralegal between February and November 2013. I became a lawyer in 2015. It all started at CCLSWA.

Like most university students, I struggled to see the practical significance of the concepts I was taught. CCLSWA changed that for me.

On behalf of CCLSWA, I delivered presentations to government departments, financial counsellors and consumer advocates. They provided me with good experience. CCLSWA offered useful presentation training in conjunction with an international law firm.

But for me, the most significant aspect of my volunteering experience was the opportunity to advise real people dealing with real problems. As a volunteer paralegal on CCLSWA’s telephone advice line, I was the first and last point of contact with a client. I received a client’s instructions orally. Under supervision of a solicitor, I then drafted legal advice. Finally and most importantly, I delivered the advice over the telephone to the client.

It is work that matters.

I recall my experience at CCLSWA fondly. The skills I developed were invaluable. It was a rare opportunity for me, at an early stage in my career, to restore some social justice.

James O’Hara
Lawyer
4 August 2016

I joined CCLSWA as a volunteer in November 2011. At that time, I was a law graduate eager to kick start my legal career. In February 2012, I became a junior solicitor.

From day one, I was given full responsibility of the telephone advice line and responsibility of case files. I fielded the daily telephone queries from the public regarding consumer credit issues and consumer law, as well as general banking and finance questions. This was a fantastic training ground to build my confidence. It laid an important foundation in work ethics, legal drafting and communication skills.

As a junior lawyer I managed a number of simple to moderately complex cases, under Faith’s and the solicitors’ expert guidance. I learnt the valuable knowledge of file and client management. I recall drafting my very first letter of advice to a client, to which numerous corrections were made. A senior solicitor patiently explained the changes made and provided constructive feedback to me. The collaborative and positive engagement between senior and junior lawyers boosted my confidence and ability.

The training provided by CCLSWA was second to none. CCLSWA sought excellent trainers from reputable law firms and barristers to train in a variety of areas: legal writing, pleadings, advocacy, communication, as well as credit law.

CCLSWA gave me the opportunity to train and mentor juniors. This enhanced my people management and communication skills.

In late 2012, Faith arranged a secondment opportunity for me to work at the Perth branch of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). What began as a six-month secondment turned into a 3.5 year stint for me in ASIC as an enforcement lawyer in financial services and consumer credit law.

The foundation and training that CCLSWA provides is a fantastic stepping stone for all aspiring lawyers. I moved from being a lawyer at ASIC to being a prosecutor at the Australian Taxation Office, to my new and current role as Senior Analyst in Risk and Compliance of KPMG Australia. I applaud CCLSWA for its unending zest to build and maintain the skills of volunteers and junior lawyers, without which I would not be where I am today.

Juin Ng
Senior Analyst
Regulation & Compliance
Risk Management
KPMG Australia

4 August 2016

My name is Emily Lynch and I have recently completed a combined Law/Arts degree at the University of Western Australia. I am currently working full-time at the District Court in Perth.

Before I started volunteering at CCLSWA, I had no prior legal experience, nor any knowledge of consumer law. I am immensely grateful to CCLSWA for granting me the invaluable and rewarding opportunity to volunteer there for a year, particularly in light of how much I learned during that time.

Volunteers are instrumental to the operation of CCLSWA and are therefore, in my experience, given a lot more responsibility as compared with law students working in the private sector. Volunteers at CCLSWA perform a wide variety of tasks; such as operating the telephone advice line, assisting in client interviews, drafting legal correspondence and conducting presentations. Performing such tasks – especially with the supervision and guidance of a talented group of solicitors – is great practice for any law student who eventually wants to enter the legal profession.

Now that I have entered the workforce myself, I have found that the legal research and case file management skills I developed at CCLSWA have greatly assisted me in my current position at the District Court. I also feel more comfortable dealing with emotional people in court, after having spoken with clients in similarly difficult situations on CCLSWA’s telephone advice line.

I would highly recommend a volunteer position at CCLSWA as a way to not only kick-start your legal career, but also give back to the community.

Emily Lynch
Usher to Chief Judge
District Court, Western Australia
January 2016