A new initiative designed to prepare aspiring lawyers to handle domestic violence cases has been established in a joint partnership between Bond University and the Domestic Violence Court in Southport, Queensland’s first and only dedicated domestic and family violence court.
The program aims to give five law students supervised exposure to the complex legal field of domestic violence, shadowing Magistrate Colin Strofield in his role as one of the presiding magistrates of the Domestic Violence Court and working with the dedicated Domestic Violence Registry.
The students – Nakisa Djamshidi, Tess Lehn, Katrina Ukmar, Chelsea McClatchy and Melissa Bate – will each spend one day per week in the Court with Magistrate Strofield, as well as working in the Registry.
Final year Juris Doctor (JD) student Tess Lehn, 24, said it had been eye opening to be part of such an important program.
“I have learnt so much seeing what the Magistrate deals with on a daily basis,” she said.
“The sheer volume of people that appeared before the Magistrate Court each day completely surpassed my expectations. This really highlighted the need the community has for the specialised Domestic Violence Court, which will hopefully remain in place after the pilot trial has finished.”
“I think that this program is invaluable because it gives law students further insight into real-life legal practice, which you cannot otherwise gain from lectures and tutorials. To be sitting with the Magistrate is something that students would normally never experience, and I am very thankful to Bond University for this opportunity.”
Tess is planning to work in family law when she graduates from Bond University this year.
Third year Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Psychological Science student Katrina Ukmar, 21, said she and her fellow students were very fortunate to have such access to the courtroom and its workings.
“I don’t think the community understands just how widespread domestic violence is in today’s society. It’s been amazing to see the great work that is happening, and steps that are being taken, to address this important issue.”
Katrina would like to work in criminal law when she graduates from Bond at the end of 2017.
IMAGE: Katrina Ukmar, The Hon Magistrate Colin Strofield, Paula Bould, Tess Lehn. Supplied by Bond University.