Meet Sam: one of our volunteer paralegals

By Anika Legal | Thu 3rd June '21

Sam, 23 - Law Student (Monash University)

I began working with Anika in November 2019 as a law student with no volunteer experience. While most universities strive to ensure students are prepared for the corporate sphere, I had always felt a bit jaded with the industry but lacked access to experience in the non-for-profit sector. One community legal centre replied to an application I had sent out 15 months later, long after I had given up hearing back, simply because of the massive number of students seeking alternate pathways.

To be quite honest, Anika has completely altered my understanding of what it means to be a lawyer. From day one, law students are told to embrace the cut-throat nature of the degree. While many people flourish in such an environment, it alienates a large proportion of my cohort. This is the value of Anika – we demonstrate the power of compassion and provide unique, rewarding and practical experience to students who desperately need alternative options to standard scanning, filing and printing tasks of many student volunteers and paralegals.

Anika is revolutionising the way law students gain access to practical legal training – providing experience in our chosen field, broadening our horizons and assisting vulnerable members of our community at the same time. Every client I have assisted has taken the time to express their gratitude and tell me how valuable they have found our service. Many of them have said if they hadn’t found Anika they would have stuck out the duration of their tenancy agreement in a property which often required urgent repairs just to be liveable.

A photo of Sam sitting on his sofa with a laptop

One of my earliest clients demonstrated to me just how important the work we do at Anika is. Louise had recently moved into a rental with her partner and toddler, and was expecting her second child when she contacted Anika. It was heartbreaking to hear the frustration in her voice as she explained the plethora of repairs that her property required. Despite being assured that the faulty oven would be replaced before signing the lease, Louise and her partner were still without a way to cook for their family 9 months after moving into the property.

The support myself and the Anika team provided to Louise ultimately gave her the courage and legal backing to challenge her landlords - and WIN!

Seeing how our assistance empowered Louise during what she told me was one of the most stressful periods of her life, emphasised to me the unique and powerful social justice organisation Anika is poised to become. Interestingly, I also felt the need to thank Louise for letting me work with her. No paid legal work scanning documents or researching precedent has ever given me such valuable experience as taking Louise's case - working with a supervising lawyer to draft her advice and liaising with her landlords and agents.

My experience thus far with Anika has provided me with such great insight into the industry, and motivated and excited me to complete my degree in a way in which no textbook based subject at university has in the last 4 years.

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