Judicial mentoring

La Trobe Law School runs a unique Judicial Mentoring Program. It allows you to shadow a Magistrate over a semester, and witness a range of activities such as bail applications and pleas in mitigation.

You will observe judges, magistrates and legal practitioners in action and gain insights into areas of law that you may not have otherwise been exposed to. Mentoring provides you with a deeper understanding of areas of professional practice and helps clarify your career aspirations by offering valuable networking opportunities. This will enhance your future career prospects, including applications for seasonal clerkships and/or supervised traineeships.

The Judicial Mentoring Program requires you to conduct research into a legal issue relating to your assigned mentor's work. It leads to credit for part of the assessment in Evidence and Criminal Procedure. The principles of our Clinical Legal Education programs are embedded in the Judicial Mentoring Program, so that you are guided throughout your mentoring experience to make deeper connections with important legal principles such as the rule of law.

Only the best and brightest students are offered a place in the program. You must apply in writing and address key selection criteria. Only students with an average of 70% and higher in their law subjects may be selected for an interview. Before you meet your Mentor, you must attend a compulsory orientation which will highlight your obligations and duties as a participant in the Judicial Mentoring Program. You must also attend a compulsory debrief at the end of the program.

Feedback from participating students

'I learnt that there is such a thing as a 'sentencing indication' and how these work. I watched the rule in Browne v Dunn play out in a courtroom. I saw how court procedures actually worked, like prosecution and defence statements. I learnt about CISP and the often limited range of sentencing options available to Magistrates.'

'…having a Magistrate to ask questions to and learn from is wonderful. My Mentor has been knowledgeable and extraordinarily approachable and her wisdom has greatly inspired me.'

'…I learnt a lot about practical criminal procedure, such as the procedure for questioning a protected witness, how the Court functions and how vital the staff are. In particular, I was struck by how difficult the clerk's job is. Finally, I learnt how many factors must be taken into account before the Magistrates make a decision and how much work occurs for them before the go into the courtroom.'

'... the best thing was being able to see so many different cases and being able to then discuss with my Mentor what was happening in the case and how he came to a certain decision.'
 
'…I learnt a lot about the interaction between the law and social issues. Drugs and mental health issues appear constantly before the Magistrates Court. Observing the criminal procedures in action, watching the way that lawyers conducted themselves and seeing what makes for good representation was an invaluable experience. I was astounded by the work of the Duty Lawyers and how well many of them performed under that amount of pressure.'

'…my Mentor continually addressed the accused with respect and treated every case individually. This really made me reflect and I know I would personally find this difficult. Seeing how my Mentor handled these difficult situations gave me a great deal of faith in the Magistrates and the system that deals with both victims and defendants.'

Feedback from participating Magistrates

'…I just want to add that it was a real pleasure working with [student] and I wish her all the best into the future. I am sure La Trobe Law School will be proud of her as she progress through her career. Thank you for the opportunity to participate.'

'…It was a pleasure to mentor [student] and the completed survey provides all my feedback.
Congratulations to you and to La Trobe Law School for presenting such a remarkable student. [Student] will be an enormous success, she is a dedicated lawyer.'

'…[Student] was an engaged, intelligent and perceptive participant in the program. She was respectful of the environment of the court room, chambers and the lunchroom - so that it was a pleasure to share all of them with her. Her written legal research and the discussions which preceded it, were of considerable practical assistance to me.'

'…Congratulations to La Trobe for providing the students with this opportunity. It makes the practice of law egalitarian in so far as it provides opportunities for all students to make good connections. The calibre of students is remarkable. Well done La Trobe.'

'…Once again I have enjoyed participating in the program and once again I am impressed by the quality of the student I have had the chance to work with.'

'…I am involved in programs at 3 universities, and the La Trobe version, because of its attachment to the procedure and evidence subject, seems to provides the most coherent and comprehensive approach for the student, and obviously fits well with what I can expose a student to here at court … All in all, so far the students referred to me have been very impressive, keen and have worked hard to gain as much as they can. [Student] is no exception.'