Lisa Thien Huong Nguyen
At the beginning of the CLE program I had mixed emotions, I was not only extremely excited to begin but I was also a little bit apprehensive of what I was expected to do. We were given two major projects to work on during the semester and on the face of the questions it did not seem too difficult. However upon closer examination of the topics, I started to develop a lot of questions. This started to worry me a bit as I thought that I might have been missing something, but after talking to my team mates, I was not alone. I am very glad to have had the opportunity to work with all the members on my team. They have not only been extremely hardworking but they are all very supportive, encouraging and friendly. I am extremely sad to say goodbye to my team mates and support team, not only from La Trobe University (Melbourne campus) but also from Queensland University of Technology and from BABSEACLE.
I was a bit afraid at the beginning when I was informed that I would be working with team members from a completely different university I was unsure how we were to complete the project. However after the initial introduction, I felt much better in tackling the project together. They all sounded very competent and shared the same enthusiasm as I did in the program and so it did not take long to figure out that I had a really great team to work with. Even though we were from different universities and states, we still kept each other informed of what we were up to through the group discussion board as well as through meetings via Googlehangout. We were quick in organizing our project at the beginning and so coordinating tasks was very easy.
I believe that I learnt so much, not only professionally but also personally as well. I have added a lot to my research skills by exploring legislation from various jurisdictions besides Australia, I have learnt how to communicate effectively as well as work on a team. I have also felt that I have a grown a little bit more confident in putting my views and thoughts across to others in the team. I believe that I have contributed a lot in both of the projects and through the supportive and encouraging words from my team mates, I believe that my contributions have also been valuable.
I have also learnt the importance of procedure and administration by complying with the strict requirements of submitting work, creating emails and google drives, ensuring all support and team members were copied in all correspondence as well as creating events in the google calendar. I was told that the majority of a lawyer’s work is complying with strict administrative rules and procedure and after completing this program I have become more appreciative of the hard work from behind the scenes. Furthermore with the amount of work dedicated to the projects as well as maintaining my other university, work and personal commitments- I have also learnt to manage my time effectively.
Overall, this program has been a very positive experience. I am very grateful and thankful to have had the opportunity to complete the program and am very sad to be nearing the end of the projects.
After completing the program as well as reading about CLE I feel like that is the path that I want to take. Before the program, I honestly had no idea what I was going to do with my degrees- I decided to study both accounting and law as I was good at accounting and I had the scores to do law. But I also think that subconsciously, I wanted to do something with my life. I’ve grown up in a family who works extremely hard to survive. My mum and dad had to work tirelessly to support my family, I saw that I wanted to break the cycle and work hard towards getting a good degree to get out and work to support them. But as I have worked in various places, I have had experience in all different areas. I worked at one of the top four account firms, I worked at a small law firm, I worked at a government agency and I have also volunteered at a legal community center and various other community centers. Furthermore, I think that while working and growing up in my family, I have finally understood that of course living comfortably is important, but it is important to be happy and enjoy what you are doing.
I think that it is natural to be scared of not having a comfortable income but I have realized that I am not alone and that there are people in my life who I think and hope will be able to support and help me, so I think that after being confused for almost all my life I know what I want to do I want to use my degrees to benefit the community in a practical and real way. I want to help provide legal services to those who are unaware of their rights and those who cannot afford or understand the law. I think that it is a real shame in our system that you need to pay to be heard. I hope that large law firms will be more generous and help out community legal centers so that more people will have access to justice.
Before this course I honestly thought I would never practice- I think that that was due to underestimating myself, believing that I have no confidence or the ability to do so but I think that now as I have a direction and motivation or possibility even a passion go want to stand up in court and be the voice of those who cannot be represented. I want to ensure that justice is accessible; people know their rights and can be able to obtain a just outcome and to have faith in the legal profession and the legal system. Therefore my first step is to do the practical legal training course in Victoria to be admitted as a practicing lawyer and then I want to open up a CLE in my community. I know that it is very ambitious, but witnessing the work performed by BABSEACLE on a daily basis has inspired me to dream big as well and so I am glad and feel very fortunate to be able to participate in the BABSEACLE externship this year (2013) to see the work in action myself and bring back experiences of the inspirational work being conducted.