Several national firsts for UC's School of Law

24 September 2013

The University of Canterbury (UC) will soon appoint a director of Clinical Legal Studies, the first position of its kind in New Zealand.

Several national firsts for UC's School of Law

Dean of Law School, Dr Chris Gallavin

The University of Canterbury (UC) will soon appoint a director of Clinical Legal Studies, the first position of its kind in New Zealand.

The announcement from the Dean of the Law School, Dr Chris Gallavin, comes on top of the school announcing it will offer the largest law internship paper at any New Zealand law school. The paper will run over the summer and first and second semester every year. UC already has the only gangs course in New Zealand, run by award-winning author Dr Jarrod Gilbert.

Dr Gallavin says he will soon announce a brand new New Zealand Police Prosecutions internship with the Christchurch Police. He is in the final stages of negotiating the 2013 NZ-US Congressional Law Internship for the summer, based at Washington DC. 

"It’s exciting that we will be the first law school to develop a clinical legal programme that provides students with opportunities to work on real issues and real cases for credit. The appointment of a director sends a clear signal that UC is serious about working closely with the community and transitioning students from university to the outside world.

"I am determined to ensure that we are not just a degree machine. We are here to make a difference.  The Education Act says that universities are the conscience and critic of society.

"Examining the operation of law schools around the world I was struck at how the Ivy League universities of the United States profess to be there to make a difference - to challenge and work on the big issues facing their communities, their country and our world.

"Our initiatives will be integrated into our curriculum and are intended to provide students with experiences and skills that many employers note are lacking in graduates.

"We want to show our students have the ability to deal with real people, real problems, to think beyond ‘the law’ in their problem solving and to apply skills of self-critique in order to examine how we do things and how they can be done better. In short, making a difference provides a hugely profitable learning experience.

"Although we all know that Christchurch can be a difficult place to live in our post-quake environment, I firmly believe it to be the place to be in New Zealand over the next 15 to 20 years.

"We will be supporting the GDP of the entire country and we will be increasingly the hotspot for social entrepreneurs and those with a settler mentality from around the world. That, I believe, will make Christchurch an increasingly dynamic and inspiring place.

"The Christchurch rebuild is not only about building; it includes the development of our community both socially and culturally as well as legally, politically, environmentally, spiritually and ethnically.

"I have been travelling around high schools in New Zealand with the message that if you are a young person (or at least young at heart) why would you want to be anywhere else.  This is a young person’s city – go out and make it so.

"Where else does one have the opportunity to renegotiate the foundational building blocks of a community? Everyone else around the world will be studying such problems in books – we have them on our doorstep and we are charged with coming up with the answers,’’ Dr Gallavin says.

UC law students are making a major contribution to the wellbeing of the Canterbury community through their volunteering at Community Law Canterbury where they service more than 20,000 inquiries from the public each year.

For more information please contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Student Services and Communications
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168

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