Internship program for indigenous students goes national
After its success with UTS Law students, a unique internship program is now available to Indigenous law students at other universities across Australia.
A unique and multifaceted internship program developed by international law firm, King and Wood Mallesons (KWM) in collaboration with the UTS Law Faculty proved so successful, it’s been expanded.
Launched in July last year, the pilot of what was then called ‘Pathways’ grew out of an intensive co-design workshop with a group of Indigenous UTS Law students.
Over several hours of discussion and collaboration, KWM’s Community Impact, National Manager, Megan Barnett-Smith, helped the students pinpoint their needs and aspirations and define what their ideal internship would look like.
She says the involvement of the students was key to the process:
The workshop allowed us to truly listen to what Indigenous students want and need in an internship and that’s exactly what we are delivering.
Four UTS law students took part in the inaugural internship which works as a flexible 15 day paid program over a three-month period.
It includes optional secondments to the in-house legal teams of some of KWM’s key clients.
Law student Olivia Henderson says initially, she felt daunted about going into a large corporate law firm but found everyone incredibly supportive:
At every step, KWM has people to guide you and help you identify what legal areas you are interested in and where your skills might be - it was so valuable to be able to talk to both senior people and recent graduates and I found it really inspiring.
Law student, Briar-Kait Thompson says the KWM experience helped her focus on what her future career path might look like.
She praises the buddy and mentor components of the internship and says they helped her understand how she could combine her law degree and her determination to travel:
My ‘buddies’ and mentor put me in touch with the right people to help guide me so that, after lengthy conversations and a lot of thinking, I know that my goal is to work for the Intelligence and Security sector of the government - utilising both my law and international relations degree.
KWM is so pleased with the success of of the program that it’s increasing the number of internships to ten and rolling them out across Australia in partnership with other universities as well as UTS.
And the name has changed – the program is now called 'Waiwa Mudena'. Artist, Robby Wiramanda designed the program logo and the phrase comes from his grandmother’s language. Robby uses the phrase to mean ‘rise up and go after’.
Head of KWM’s Pro Bono and Community Impact program, Dan Creasey says the multi-layered approach to the internship program and the fact it’s designed in partnership with indigenous students makes it unique:
’Waiwa Mudena’ is a key plank of KWM Community Impact’s broader reconciliation and empowerment initiatives. Our ultimate goal is greater representation of Australia’s First Peoples in the legal profession and the legal sector. We are extremely proud of the initial success and we are excited to make the program available across all KWM’s Australian centres.
For Olivia Henderson, the internship was a game-changer:
The KWM program really solidified my ambitions for a career in commercial law - I am applying for clerkships this year, and my experience at KWM has given me the knowledge and confidence to put my best foot forward.
Olivia features in the KWM video about the program.