Meet our La Trobe Law School students

Students in the La Trobe Law School are preparing to make a difference to the legal industry in Australia

Gihansa Samarawickrema

“When people hear law and biomedicine, they are usually surprised to hear that it’s even possible to do these two courses together!”

Gihansa Samarawickrema (pictured above) is in her third year of a combined Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Biomedicine, a course she didn’t know existed until she completed an application for Aspire, La Trobe’s early entry program.

“I had no idea that this double degree existed until I applied for the Aspire program, which my careers coordinator suggested because I was involved in many extracurricular activities, including serving as school captain.”

“Going into year 12, I wasn't sure what I wanted to study at university but, lucky for me, when I filled in my Aspire application, it made some course suggestions based on my interests and this course was at the very top of the list.”

“I've always been interested in both the medical and law fields, so it seemed like the perfect combination of my two passions.”

In addition to the Aspire program, Gihsansa was drawn to La Trobe because of its campus and facilities.

“I attended an Experience Clever session in 2018 when I was in year 10 and I just fell in love with the campus. I got an opportunity to see inside the labs and observe a student-run moot session inside our moot court. From that moment, I knew La Trobe was going to be on my list of universities.”

“Now that I am a student here, I know I made the right choice! Not only do I get to use our amazing facilities, but I also get to learn from some incredibly talented and passionate academics.”

Ryan McNelis

Ryan McNelis is proud to be following in his mother’s footsteps when he graduates from La Trobe at the end of this year.

“My mum Jenny studied history at the Bundoora campus back in the late 70s and she was a big influence on my decision to study at La Trobe. I am really looking forward to celebrating with her at graduation in December.”

However, it was law rather than history that sparked Ryan’s passion, choosing to study a Bachelor of Laws/ Bachelor of Global Studies.

“I have always been interested in learning how the legal system works and how lawyers can have a positive role in society by protecting individuals and upholding their rights,” he says.

Ryan said his placement at Victoria Legal Aid’s Ringwood office was a great opportunity to see the law in action.

“I really enjoyed getting hands-on exposure to the courts, particularly as it coincided with studying the criminal procedure portion of my subject, 'Evidence Law'. With one of the major assessments being a mock bail application, being able to observe real bail proceedings at the Magistrates’ Court was invaluable.”

After completing his placement, Ryan continued as a volunteer at Victoria Legal Aid, where he has been able to hone his skills.

“Having continued as a volunteer clerk after my placement, I have been able to further develop my skills while also contributing as best I can to the important work the duty lawyers at Victorian Legal Aid perform,” he says.

After graduation, Ryan hopes to pursue commercial law and one day combine his love of technology with his legal expertise.

“I am hoping to get a graduate position at a commercial law firm. I am also interested in specialising in a practice area connected with technology.”

“I have a personal passion for technology and computers, and having worked in the IT industry while I was studying, I’d be interested in any opportunities that allow me contribute this technical knowledge to a changing legal industry.”