Social Justice Opportunities is run by the Australian Pro Bono Centre. It aims to help law students and early-career lawyers embark on a social justice career and/or get involved in volunteering. We collate and post links to ethical jobs and volunteering positions that are targeted at law students, law graduates, and lawyers with up to 5 years post-admission experience. Our website also provides information about how to get involved in social justice:
- by volunteering
- at law school
- when undertaking practical legal training
- when looking for a job
- when undertaking postgraduate study.
What is ‘social justice’, and why should you get involved?
‘Justice’ usually involves fairness in individual cases, but ‘social justice’ is a broader concept. It is about ensuring that the structures of society are fair and just for the vulnerable and disadvantaged. Lawyers working to improve social justice outcomes often use individual cases to illustrate how an unjust law should be amended, or run test cases to change an unfair law that affects many people.
Getting involved in social justice work can significantly benefit your career, whether you want to pursue a career at a commercial law firm, with government, in-house, or at a not-for-profit organisation. Social justice work can help develop your skills in communication, teamwork, legal research and analysis, and legal drafting. Social justice work will often provide you with opportunities that you would not otherwise encounter so early in your career – such as client interviewing, attending court, drafting policy submissions, and working on significant public interest litigation. It can also provide you with excellent networking opportunities and can demonstrate your values to future employers.
And most importantly, doing social justice work means that you are assisting socially disadvantaged and/or marginalised persons, and contributing to making our society a fairer place.
About the Australian Pro Bono Centre
The Australian Pro Bono Centre is an independent, non-profit organisation at the University of New South Wales. It is the national peak body for legal pro bono service delivery in Australia. Its principal objective is to grow the capacity of the Australian legal profession to provide pro bono services focused on increasing access to justice for socially disadvantaged and marginalised persons and furthering the public interest.
History of Social Justice Opportunities
Social Justice Opportunities was originally created as a joint project by the Australian Pro Bono Centre and the Australian Law Students Association (ALSA), with assistance from several financial supporters and partners (see below).
The website was created in response to feedback from law students that they would like more information about opportunities to volunteer and work in positions that involve social justice.
While most students are aware of the opportunities that law firms offer, information about social justice opportunities has not always been so visible. Of the 25 law student societies surveyed by ALSA and the Centre at the 2010 ALSA Conference (representing almost all law schools in Australia), 80% wanted the Centre to provide “information resources about social justice careers and opportunities” and to promote volunteering opportunities at community legal centres. The survey also revealed that at smaller or more regional universities, there was less emphasis on social justice and pro bono (and fewer opportunities available).
Social Justice Opportunities was the first national social justice careers resource to provide information about all the opportunities in one place. It includes information about opportunities both within and outside university, at every stage of a law degree, through to PLT and graduate positions, and in the early years of a legal career.
Supporters of Social Justice Opportunities
Social Justice Opportunities was created with financial assistance from:
Social Justice Opportunities was also established with support from the following partners (as they were then named):
- ACT Young Lawyers’ Committee
- Northern Territory Young Lawyers
- Queensland Young Lawyers
- Young Lawyers Committee of South Australia
- Young Lawyers Committee of Tasmania
- Young Lawyers Committee of Western Australia
- Young Lawyers’ Section of the Law Institute of Victoria (now LIV Young Lawyers)
- Macquarie University Students for Community Legal Engagement
- University of NSW Social Justice Internship Program
- University of Technology Sydney Brennan Justice and Leadership Program.