Adelaide Magistrates Court Internship
Heading into the Summer break, where I often spend time unproductively, I was excited to be accepted as an Intern at the Adelaide Magistrates Court as part of the Law and Justice Internship program at the Adelaide Law School.
After completing the first step of any new adventure (googling it), I found the Adelaide Magistrate Court had a 2.2 star google review rating (presumably due to some disgruntled defendants) and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself in for.
The supportive, busy and, erudite environment was a truly unique learning experience. My day-to-day tasks included legal research tasks, drafting judgements, case summaries, Court observation, and eating cake in the staffroom. The legal research I undertook included; conviction without penalty, civil procedure, sentencing discounts, an implied term of good faith, a breach of contract in relation to recovering an engagement ring, and, criminal asset confiscation. It was a fantastic way to be able to implement skills learnt through research assignments and mooting at law school in a practical environment. The diverse range of matters that came across my desk could not be found anywhere else.
The Magistrates Court truly is the workhorse of the courts. This jurisdiction is the first stop for any matter, even the most serious of criminal charges as they must go through the committal court to move to the District or Supreme Court. You see almost all sectors of society in the Magistrates Court, neighbours going through a civil matter, repeat criminal offenders, first time offenders, drug-addicts, disgruntled ex-partners and, general members of the public appearing as witnesses.
Specialists courts including the Drug Court really caught my attention and highlighted how the legal system can be progressive and adaptive to societal demands. The rehabilitative focus of the Drug Court gives offenders an opportunity to focus on getting clean by completing personalised programs in a stable environment. It is the stability, in the form of housing, monitoring and treatment programs, that allows individuals to reform often long-standing negative behaviour patterns. The Court facilitates review periods and individuals are applauded by their peers at the end of a success review period. The potential to reduce rates of reoffending through these programs is extensive.
My five weeks as an Intern at the Adelaide Magistrates Court was a fun and challenging experience. I would strongly recommend the Law and Justice Internship to any students keen to gain some practical experience in the law.
by April Zimmermann