University of Newcastle Legal Centre
‘The UNLC has been a leader in experiential learning since the centre opened in 1995. The Centre’s Professional Program was the first integrated clinical legal education course at an Australian university. I encourage students from all years to become involved in the life of the centre by participating in the centre’s evening advice clinics.’
– Shaun McCarthy, Director of UNLC
About the Centre
The University of Newcastle Legal Centre (UNLC) is both a community legal service and a teaching facility for law students. The UNLC was established in 1994 as an initiative of the Newcastle Law School and provides the centrepiece for the School’s Professional Program.
The Newcastle Law School at the University of Newcastle has established a reputation for innovative legal education. The UNLC provides an intensive clinical placement site for students. By working with the Centre’s lawyers and dealing with real clients with actual legal problems, students gain skills and experience in the practice of law.
The Professional Program is open to senior law students and offers supervised placements in legal offices throughout the Newcastle, Hunter and Central Coast regions. LLB students are also able to undertake voluntary work experience at the UNLC.
The UNLC operates as a community legal centre, providing free legal advice and assistance to members of the community in the Hunter region. The operations of the UNLC are directed to the provision of assistance to disadvantaged members of the community, focusing on those people with limited financial means or on matters in the public interest.
The University of Newcastle Legal Centre has the following aims and objectives:
- Provide a quality legal service based on ethical practice to members of the community who would not otherwise be able to afford legal services
- Provide quality legal education to law students
- Undertake legal matters which are in the public interest
- Develop new models of clinical legal education which enhance legal professional skills
- Enhance legal services throughout the Newcastle region and, in particular, to expand the work already done by the other legal services in the private and public sector
- Give students an appreciation of the practice of law and a fuller understanding of the legal and social issues which provide a context for the practice of law.
Real client experience is central to the Professional Program as a model of clinical legal education. A passion for social justice, respect for the rule of law and a dedication to the interests of clients is fostered. Students are challenged to consider the connections between law in theory and law in practice and are encouraged to reflect upon and critique the practice of lawyering.