School of Law alumni fully fledged lawyers

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Two La Trobe University alumni have this week become fully fledged lawyers after five years of study combined with working in Bendigo law firms.

After studying for two years at the University’s Bendigo campus and three in Bundoora before completing a year of practical training, James Callahan and Daniel Cole this week were admitted as solicitors at a formal ceremony in the Supreme Court in Melbourne. Mr Callahan and Mr Cole were two students in the first intake when the law course began at the Bendigo campus in 2004.

Local law firms O’Farrell Robertson McMahon, and Beck Legal have thrown their support behind the La Trobe University law course from its inception.  Mr Callahan and Mr Cole commenced working as law clerks with the Bendigo firms during the first year of their study, continuing such work part time when their study took them to Melbourne.  They have now completed their traineeships with the Bendigo firms. 

Mr Russell Robertson, partner at O’Farrell Robertson McMahon, speaks highly of Mr Callahan and the La Trobe course and suggests that anyone considering law as a career should give La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus serious consideration.

‘It’s always hard to recruit solicitors so it’s a big plus to have regional students studying law in Bendigo. Attracting and retaining lawyers in regional areas is a big problem throughout Australia.

‘A lot of people go away to study and rarely come back to regional and rural centres so we are fortunate to have access to the teaching and support services offered by La Trobe. All the facilities that students could want are available here,’ Mr Robertson said.

Partner at Beck Legal, Ken Gilchrist echoes Mr Robertson’s comments. ‘When this law school in Bendigo was first proposed, Beck Legal actively supported and promoted it. It’s a pleasure to see it up and running and an even greater pleasure to be able to employ one of the first graduates of the program,’ Mr Gilchrist said.

‘The great benefit for Beck Legal and other law practitioners is for local kids to start their studies here and then come back to the region to work. It provides security for them and security for us, as it’s difficult to attract lawyers from Melbourne.’

‘Daniel has been a first rate addition to our legal staff and we welcome him to Beck Legal. I think La Trobe should be congratulated for commencing this course and I certainly hope it continues to attract quality students,’ Mr Gilchrist said.

Mr Cole and Mr Callahan commented on the benefits of being able to study the first two years of their course in Bendigo.

‘The course turned out to be really good. I was able to start in Bendigo then transfer to Melbourne. It was great living on campus in Bundoora but I was very happy to come back to Bendigo and to get the experience of working at O’Farrell Robertson McMahon,’ Mr Callahan said.

Mr Cole agrees. ‘It was fantastic to do the first two years in my home town. The personalised, smaller environment and the tuition and help we got was fantastic. It gave me an insight into what was required in tertiary study and prepared me for Melbourne. It was great that Beck Legal offered me a job at the end of it all.’

Bendigo campus director, Mr Andrew Skewes says that La Trobe University is focussed on collaborating with business and industry to develop courses that best meet the needs of the community.

 ‘An important aspect of delivering higher education in regional locations is ensuring that the courses we delivery meet the community workforce, social and cultural needs,’ Mr Skewes said.

‘This involves strong consultative relationships with regional organisations so that our students are able to gain practical work experience while they study and live close to home. We know that people who study in regional locations are more likely to work there and it’s encouraging to see that two of our law students have done just that.’

Members of the community interested in finding out about their local university are invited to Open Day at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus on Sunday 16 August. Click here for more information and a full program.

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