This year Auckland University of Technology welcomed the first cohort of Law students to its South Campus. The new Bachelor of Laws (LLB) pathway signalled greater accessibility to legal education in South Auckland. Now the offering is being expanded to include second-year Law in 2017.
To celebrate, a networking breakfast was hosted at AUT South Campus, bringing together more than 25 first-year Law students, staff and members of the judiciary and legal profession.
Professor Charles Rickett, Dean of AUT Law School, says interest in the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) pathway at South Campus is strong.
“We saw that there was a need to make legal education accessible to a wider and more diverse audience,” he says.
“By bringing our Law degree to South Auckland, barriers such as distance are removed. And, our students are able to study close to home.”
He also noted that South Auckland is home to almost 200,000 Māori and Pacific people.
“We hope to elevate the number of Māori and Pacific lawyers, whose numbers are severely underrepresented in the legal profession.”
First-year Law student, Tracy Ochibulu, decided to study law due to first-hand experience of how a lack of legal knowledge can be a handicap.
“People are scared of the law, because they don’t know how it works,” she says.
“Many members of my community don’t have any legal knowledge. I want to apply the knowledge that I’ve learnt and give something back to the community, by working as a lawyer for them.”
For first-year Law student, Tamatoa Richmond, getting into the Law programme at AUT South Campus represents a new start in life.
The decision to enrol came after he had to fight a custody battle for his daughters without a lawyer.
“In my community, nobody knows what to do when a legal situation arises. I decided that I wanted to change that,” says Richmond.
“Life was tough growing up in six foster homes, not knowing when your next meal was. After my studies, I hope to use my knowledge of the legal system to help my community in times of need.”
At the Law breakfast, industry players hailed the move to AUT South Campus.
Guest speaker, Andrew Butler, a litigator and partner at Russell McVeagh, commended AUT for introducing a law degree at its South Campus.
“Increasing accessibility for people in the region is a great move.”
He also discussed the benefits of being a lawyer.
“The variety in the workplace, the characters that you meet, the opportunity to learn what other people do, the intellectual satisfaction, the help you get to give and the ability to contribute to the community – is what makes law a wonderful profession,” he says.
Butler encouraged students to develop their own way of thinking about the world.
“Ask yourself what you want to learn and what gets you out of bed in the morning.
“If you really get into it, law will shape how you think about the world. Litigation forces you to confront issues and helps you understand them.”
Another guest speaker, Charlie Piho, a solicitor and Junior Crown Prosecutor at Kayes Fletcher Walker – the office of Manukau’s first Crown Solicitor, Natalie Walker – says having a place to study law in South Auckland is a huge win for the region.
“I’m proud to be a graduate of a Law School that has made studying law more accessible to those who live in South Auckland,” he says.
Piho is a member of the university’s very first cohort of Law students, who graduated in 2013, and had much to share about his journey.
The small class sizes, interactive focus and collaborative environment was what made his experience at AUT Law School so valuable.
“Be curious, be inquisitive, be eager and hungry to learn. Make the most of your Law degree,” he says.
“At the end of it all, graduating alongside my friends is one of the fondest memories I have.
“So go for it and give it your all. Don’t just be part of this special law school, strive to be the part that makes it so special.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT US AT www.aut.ac.nz/startnow