Information for students and teachers on life as a barrister and the pathways to becoming a barrister
Welcome to the Victorian Bar’s Student Information webpage, brought to you by the Victorian Bar’s Student Engagement Committee (SEC).
What is the SEC?
The SEC was formed in 2010 with the objective of ‘demystifying’ the Bar by providing secondary school and tertiary students with a better understanding of the work of the Bar, and of the pathways to becoming a barrister. The SEC does this primarily by arranging barristers to speak to students at Victorian universities and secondary schools, and by creating and facilitating work experience and mentoring opportunities for students so that they can see what barristers do first-hand. Details of the Work Experience and Mentoring Program run by the SEC are set out below.
The SEC is proud to have as its patron the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the Honourable Justice Marilyn Warren AC. The SEC is also proud to be working together with the Victoria Law Foundation to help Victorian secondary school students better understand the law and their legal system.
The SEC hopes that you find the information on this page interesting and helpful. If you have any queries in relation to the information on this page, or if you wish to make an enquiry about having a barrister speak at your school or university, please feel free to contact us using the details set out below.
Katherine Brazenor, Chair, Student Engagement Committee
Useful links for students about the Bar and the Australian legal system
The Victoria Law Foundation also publishes some useful guides about the legal system in general, as well as an education program specifically for secondary school students.
The SEC Work Experience and Mentoring Program
The SEC runs a Work Experience and Mentoring Program that is designed to create and facilitate work experience and mentoring opportunities for secondary school and tertiary students who are interested in studying or practising law.
Work experience under the SEC Program typically involves ‘shadowing’ a barrister for an agreed period of time (the most typical time period for this is for one or two days, or in the case of secondary school students undertaking the Department of Education and Training work experience program, up to a week). This may involve spending time with your barrister mentor as they work in Chambers, or appear in Court, or attend mediations or conferences. It is intended to give you an insight into the ‘day to day’ practice of a barrister at the Victorian Bar.
Mentoring under the SEC Program typically involves one or more communications with a barrister, for example, meeting over coffee, communicating by email, or speaking by phone every few months. Through this experience, you have the opportunity to form a relationship with a barrister and seek guidance relevant to your intended career path and interests in the law.
Students who wish to apply for either work experience or mentoring with a member of the Victorian Bar pursuant to the SEC Work Experience and Mentoring Program should send their CV to email@example.com, along with a cover letter stating the following information:
Please note that the SEC receives many requests every year for work experience and mentoring opportunities. The SEC endeavours to meet all requests, but it is not always possible to do so. Please also be patient whilst waiting for a response regarding your application.
Further, the Victorian Bar’s Indigenous Lawyers Committee has established a work experience and mentoring program for Indigenous secondary school and university students. For more information on that program, please click here.
What can I expect from a work experience placement at the Victorian Bar?
The SEC Program typically places students with a barrister mentor for one or two days. During that time, the student will ‘shadow’, or follow and observe, their barrister mentor as they go about their tasks in practice. This may include appearing in court, advising clients in conference, attending a mediation, or preparing for cases in Chambers. The purpose of shadowing is to provide the student with an insight into life as a barrister at the Victorian Bar. There are many different areas of law in which barristers can practise. Depending on the area of law in question, barristers may spend more or less time doing various tasks (for example, some barristers may be in court more than others).
Depending on the age and ability of the student, tasks that they may carry out and experiences they may have during their placement include: research, assisting their barrister mentor to organise a brief, attending court, attending a conference with a client or instructing solicitor, and attending a mediation. Precisely what experience a student has depends largely on the practice area and current commitments of their barrister mentor.
Students should also read the SEC’s Charter of Expectations prior to completing work experience:
Contacts for students
Enquiries about the SEC’s Work Experience and Mentoring Program should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, accompanied by the information set out above.
Enquiries about school or university visits, or any other matters relating to the SEC and its work should be sent to either of the SEC Co-Chairs: