By Jean-Christophe Roberge
Legal research clinics are a valuable part of law school curricula that offer students the opportunity to gain practical experience and develop essential research and writing skills. It is important to cater to the vocational skills of law students through legal research training at the university level.
Through participation in a legal research clinic, students can expect to conduct advanced legal research on a wide range of real-world topics. The Internet Law Research Clinic at Bond University (ILRC), allows students to research legal issues related to internet law under the supervision of experienced researchers, lawyers, and academics.
In this blog post, undergraduate law student Jean-Christophe Roberge shares his experience of working in the ILRC for two semesters.
What Legal Research and Writing Skills Have You Developed?
My legal research skills have improved greatly. Most of the research has an international focus and the clinic has forced me to engage with materials and sources I have not come across in my undergraduate degree. My ability to read, analyse and synthesise secondary resources has improved and will greatly assist me in my future law subjects. Also, the opportunity to present my research in the form of a weekly memorandum to my supervisors has given me a taste of real-life practice.
What Opportunities for Growth and Development Has the Clinic Offered?
By working on real-world legal issues, students can gain confidence in their ability to research complex international legal issues. The clinic also provides students with the chance to work in a team environment and collaborate effectively with staff and fellow students. This collaboration leads to valuable feedback from research leaders, helping students improve their research skills.
The unique nature of the research clinic is that it also exposes students to academia in a safe and encouraging environment. The fact that student research helps to inform and support legal research outputs is a fantastic opportunity for any law student to be given. It has also enlivened my interest in legal research.
Exposure to the Latest Developments and Trends in Internet Law
Students in the research clinic work on various projects related to internet law. For example, we have been researching the impact of natural disasters on internet access, the use and misuse of satellites and the right to access internet across the Asia-Pacific regions. Through these projects, students gain exposure to the latest developments and trends in internet law.
Challenges and Solutions in Legal Research Clinics
While legal research clinics offer valuable opportunities for students, they also present challenges. These challenges include managing time effectively, navigating complex legal materials, and the fast-paced nature of the clinic, which typically lasts only 12 weeks. You have to juggle your studies with the commitments for the clinic and be mindful that you are part of a team. If you don’t complete your work, then someone else will have to pick up the slack.
As law students, it is rare that we get to work on legal research papers without it counting towards a grade. So whilst it can be stressful at times, I try to remind myself of this fact. Students are in the clinic to learn and improve their skills and supervisors are there to support us along the way.
Best Practice Tips for Successful Participation in Legal Research Clinics
To be successful in a legal research clinic, students should stay organised, keep detailed notes, and stay up to date with their tasks every week. Taking feedback provided by experts and implementing it throughout the semester is also crucial for developing skills. Finally, it is crucial to remain open to learning and to view challenges as opportunities for personal and professional development.
Legal research clinics offer law students valuable opportunities to gain practical experience, develop essential skills, and learn from experienced researchers and academics. By following best practice, students can overcome the challenges associated with legal research clinics and maximise the benefits.