First Nations lawyer shakes up Sydney’s oldest law school

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“The Rebellious Advocate is a framework we adapted from the US and the UK in which lawyers examine their role through three elements: advocate, storytelling and activism,” she said. Explain.

Ms. Reid has three key goals in her new role: to build stronger relationships between Indigenous communities and the law school; encourage students to question their way of thinking about the profession; and launching a podcast called Blak Letter Law about First Nations peoples, their cultural authorities and the legal system.

“Blackletter law is a particular style of advocating where lawyers do the law to the letter, and I want that back – I want blackfullas to engage in dialogue,” she said. .

The dean of the law school, Professor Simon Bronitt, hoped Ms Reid’s appointment would demonstrate to his students the diversity of the legal profession.

“It’s dynamic and interesting, it has the advantage of being full of creative ideas that can translate into materials and activities that students will really engage with,” he said. “The legal profession takes many forms and advocacy for the public interest is a very important part of the legal profession.”

With an ATAR threshold of 99.5, Law at the University of Sydney is one of the most difficult undergraduate programs to enter in the country.

There are 2860 students enrolled in the law school. Only 17, or about 0.6% of these students, openly identify as Aboriginal.

Professor Bronitt acknowledged that this was a problem he was trying to solve.

“As our students will tell you, and as others will tell you, we still have a long way to go at the University of Sydney, but we are beginning this journey and striving to make it a place where Indigenous students can feel comfortable,” he said. noted.

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As a man from a modest background, Professor Bronitt said he had worked hard to increase the value and number of existing scholarships and to attract more mentors to the faculty.

“I’m English, originally from east London, the first in my family not to leave school at 16,” he said. “I am keenly aware of the power that education can give to people who would otherwise be virtually excluded.

“The reality of an institution like Sydney is that it’s the oldest university in Australia, we’ve graduated more prime ministers than anyone, on both sides of politics, and too many judges, it’s quite extraordinary when we dig into history.”

“He also had some of the most progressive and transformative political and legal leaders of every generation and I don’t think that was an accident.”

While her decision to enter the prestigious institution may not have been taken lightly, Ms. Reid is determined to make the most of it for her community.

“Visibility is important, especially for First Nations women who have goals and aspirations to become lawyers or create systemic change,” she said.

“I haven’t lost the importance of bringing the crowd on this journey.”

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