Khayshie Tilak-Ramesh was sitting in a courtroom when she realised a future in law was the right choice. It was her first year of her Bachelor of Laws undergraduate degree. It was also her first placement opportunity. For Khayshie, placement wasn’t just about ticking credit points off her degree. She wanted to make a real difference in her community. She began undertaking family violence outreach work with the Bendigo community legal centre. Her work involved translating complex legal jargon into digestible terms everyday families could understand.
“It was at that point I realised the importance of the work we can do. When people are going through a really awful time in their lives, they don’t want someone who’s going to spout legislation and process at them,” she says. “They want someone who can translate all of that into something they can understand and work with.”
After her placement, Khayshie was hooked. Accessibility for those in the community who needed it most became her ‘why.’ Through La Trobe, she volunteered with the community legal centre while studying, before joining their board.
Khayshie has stayed true to the social justice causes that matter most to her. In pursuit of her passions, she’s collected a string of accolades to make any law professional envious.
“I enjoyed studying at La Trobe. It afforded me the flexibility to be involved in all of the things that I was,” she says. “I found that the staff are extremely passionate about what they do and were always ready to give me advice on my ideas or guidance when I was in doubt.”
Well-rounded graduates ready to take on the workforce
“I’ve had such a unique and valuable education at La Trobe,” Khayshie says. “I had a lot of placements and so much involvement in the local community. It’s not all bookwork in the classroom. I’ve gained a true appreciation for what the real issues in the community are.”
Khayshie travelled to Canada on placement, working with a dispute resolution team and undertaking research.
“It was a really big growth opportunity for me, to live away from home for three months,” she says. “I’d recommend international placement to anyone.”
Aside from great placement opportunities and the emphasis on community involvement, Khayshie says what she loves most about her degree is the flexibility it provides for future careers.
“Law is such a transferable degree,” she says. “It’s not just about sitting at a desk from nine to five. It gives you so much more than that. I’ve learned a way of thinking that can’t be replicated, that’s analytical and always questioning. I’ve been able to develop my interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence and my ability to construct an argument.”
It’s these transferable skills Khayshie has been working hard on throughout her degree. She knows they’ll stand her in good stead for a career in any sector she chooses.
Shaping your profession around your passion
Khayshie’s advice to future students? Find something you love and shape your career around it. Get prepared for the future with technology, entrepreneurship and cyberlaw subjects. Practice your negotiation skills at mooting competitions in Melbourne, Hong Kong, Vienna or Frankfurt. Get insider mentoring from experienced barristers, solicitors and judges. Find ways to work your passions into your subjects and extracurricular activities. It’s all possible at La Trobe.
“I balance my community work and my education through merging them together,” she says. “I think we’re living in a time where we can really love our jobs and not simply work out of necessity in a traditional career. By no means have I followed the path of the textbook law student, but what I have managed to do is make my degree work for me in spaces I am passionate about, such as multicultural and youth advocacy. It isn’t easy, but it is rewarding.”
Khayshie has jumped at every opportunity at La Trobe. As a result, she’s enhanced her employability and further opportunities have come her way. She’s now a member of the Bendigo Youth Council, as well as the Victorian Multicultural Youth Commissioner.
“If I’d just done the degree itself, I would come out on an even playing field with other law graduates. But because La Trobe offers and encourages students to seek out these extra opportunities, I think you’ll come out as a more well-rounded, worldly graduate at the end.”
Khayshie’s hunger for knowledge and dedication to her community saw her named the 2019 Law Student of the Year at the Victorian Legal Awards. She’s glad the legal sector is recognising those influencing positive change in their communities.
“I think this award is very meaningful as it recognises student contribution above and beyond the completion of the law degree itself,” she says. “I am also hoping that it will help me secure a job for next year in an innovative law firm or government department role. I really want to work somewhere where I can continue to help vulnerable communities and explore my passion for dispute resolution and empathy within legal practice. I am excited to see where this takes me.”
Study law or criminology at La Trobe and turn your passion into your profession.