It is not uncommon for members of the bar to be approached by law students and recent graduates seeking ‘work experience’. Internships or work experience offer genuine learning opportunities. It is not appropriate, however, for members of the Bar to effectively utilise resources without payment for assistance. The PLT programme gives the student the opportunity to gain insight into working in the legal profession. This is not an opportunity to employ the services of students as law graduates or law clerks without providing payment outlined in the appropriate Legal Services Award.
A report into the nature, prevalence and regulation of unpaid work experience, internships and trials periods in Australia, prepared by Adelaide Law School in January 2013, concluded that there is reason to suspect that a growing number of businesses are choosing to engage unpaid interns to perform work that might otherwise be done by paid employees. The press have also given considerable coverage to this practice. A recent article in The Australian stated: "Some organisations think that you’re privileged to be working for them, but if they want you to work for no money, then that’s just exploitation".
It is imperative that no such claims are directed at members of the Bar Association and interns or work experience students should be paid if they are utilised as a resource.
Initial inquiries may be made of June Anderson, the Bar Association’s administration manager on 02 92324055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phillip Boulten SC President