Flinders Legal Centre
The Flinders Legal Centre at Flinders University has been operating as a free legal advice service since 2011. It is a high quality model of fully integrated clinical legal education providing a transformative experience for law students and assisting clients from the community with a wide range of legal matters. This was built on an earlier collaboration in 2009-2010 at the Adelaide Magistrates Court with Adelaide Law School.
The Clinic mirrors the environment of a small private law firm, with experienced solicitors closely supervising student interns to enable the Clinic to provide free advice to members of the community across a range of legal issues. The Clinic operates as an innovative ‘hub and spoke’ legal service. Interns and supervisors travel from our legal office ‘hub’ to our ‘spoke’ outreach Clinics where interns meet and interview members of the public. Since 2015, the Clinic ‘hub’ has been located in purpose-equipped office space situated in Flinders University’s southern commercial premises.
Clinical Legal Education at Flinders Law School was developed in its present form in 2011. In order to provide high quality internships for students studying the topic “Social Justice Internship” for credit in their law degree, we established the Flinders Legal Advice Clinic in that year. It transformed into the Flinders Legal Centre in 2019 and is now the placement internship for students studying the topic “Law in Action”.
Our Centre, while operating completely within the University, is recognised as a community legal centre under the Legal Practitioners Act 1981 (SA). Since 2011, our Clinic has operated all year round, offering students a range of enrolment opportunities. Our Interns (who comprise law students enrolled in LLAW 3302 Law in Action together with law student volunteers, and occasional graduate volunteers) commit to involvement in the Clinic for at least a semester and also voluntarily cover non study periods.
The students at our clinics find that helping people with their legal disputes is an excellent learning experience for their future career. They take their responsibility very seriously, and act professionally at all times.
Our vision and ongoing commitment is to a high quality model of fully integrated clinical legal education providing a transformative experience for student interns.
Our clinics have traditionally operated as a ‘hub and spoke’ legal service. Our legal office ‘hub’ being supervised by a senior solicitor. Interns and supervisors travel from this ‘hub’ to our ‘spoke’ outreach Clinics where interns meet and interview members of the public under the supervision of the FLC staff (being experienced legal practitioners). Interns then returned to the ‘hub’ office to conduct relevant research and prepare written advice to clients under the supervision of the Clinic Supervisor. Our outreach Clinics were located at a neighbourhood community centre (where clients present with a variety of issues including aged persons law, debt, small business and neighbourhood disputes); at our suburban campus (where issues include housing, traffic, and debt); and on-campus (with a wide variety of matters, including residential tenancy, debt, traffic, employment, small business, commercial and start-up related matters).
Since the changing conditions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic we have moved to providing our services solely online through video-conferencing sofware. All interviews and legal advice work continues to be supervised by experienced legal practitioners.
Recognition, Awards & Grants
The teaching and learning experience provided by the Clinic has been recognised by a Flinders University Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and a Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, both awarded in 2014. In December 2014, we received a University Teaching and Learning Innovation grant to develop resources to support intern resilience. We presented research about our Clinic context
- at the 2012 Higher Education Research Group of Adelaide Conference;
- at the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education Conferences in Brisbane in 2013;
- in Toronto, Canada in 2016; in Newcastle, UK in 2017;
- in Melbourne in 2018; and in Bratislava, Slovakia in 2019;
- at the Australasian Law Teachers Association Conferences at Bond University in 2014 and in Melbourne in 2015;
- at the National Wellness for Law Forums in 2015 in Canberra, in 2016 in Sydney, and in 2017 in Adelaide;
- at the 2015 Higher Education Research & Development Society of Australasia Conference in Melbourne; and
- at the 2015 Nottingham Centre for Legal Education Conference in the UK.
Recognition and support from the wider community is evidenced by grants from the Law Foundation of South Australia and Student Services Amenities Fee funding from Flinders University since 2012; and in-kind support currently from the City of Marion.
We receive referrals from the Legal Services Commission of South Australia, Southern Community and Limestone Coast Community Centre, as well as other Community Legal Centres, private practitioners and the wider community.