Law for Change Canterbury Launch Event

Matt Taylor, 17 September 2013

Law for Change Canterbury LaunchOn September 16 2013 Law for Change Canterbury held its launch event in Christchurch. It was an exciting evening beginning with a range of inspiring speakers and then breaking out into various discussion groups. We finished off with tasty drinks and nibbles kindly provided by the University of Canterbury School of Law.

Natalie Jones and Rachel Standring, the Canterbury branch founders, outlined the aims of Law for Change as an organisation and where it could fit into the Canterbury landscape. The Canterbury team focus will be on becoming an information hub, providing links to existing public interest law information and opportunities; and developing specific projects to address unmet legal need in the area.

Hugo van Dyke, one of the founding members of the organisation, flew up from Dunedin for the launch! What a legend. He spoke about the origins of Law for Change and the current nationwide projects.

Lyndon Rogers, a young professional and Canterbury graduate, spoke persuasively on how working for the community and public interest law can be much more ‘sexy’ and ‘successful’ than one might think. He inspired the audience with his experiences working with Community Law Canterbury, the Howard League for Penal Reform, and the Anglican Diocese Social Justice Unit.

Chris Jury from Community Law Canterbury outlined the work that the local centre does. From case working and manning the information phone line to prison support services and youth advocacy teams the opportunities to get involved are numerous.

Dr Chris Gallavin, Dean of the University of Canterbury School of Law, spoke about a bunch of exciting new projects happening at the University of Canterbury. Beginning 2015 all students must complete a certain number of volunteer hours in order to be eligible to graduate. Dr Gallavin also announced the launch of the New Zealand Public Interest Project, where University of Canterbury law students will work on pro bono projects alongside lawyers and a new internship paper in partnership with Community Law Canterbury. We are excited to be launching Law for Change in Canterbury which is home to such an innovative and engaged law school.

The small group workshops we held discussed volunteer internships overseas, volunteer opportunities in Canterbury, opportunities to use research skills in the community, and how young practitioners can engage their unique skills. There were tons of productive discussion which we hope to follow up on!

All in all it was a successful and engaging evening. Out of it we have formed a group of keen students and young practitioners and we look forward to Law for Change Canterbury developing!

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