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University of Canterbury

22 November 2013

The goal of the Law School at Canterbury is to be known as “the internationally recognised, professionally relevant, community focused law school”. The new focus at Canterbury is born from both the need for our students to develop professional skills as part of their university education but also the incredible need faced by the legal profession in Christchurch and our wider civil society.

Our students have and continue to make an incredible contribution to our society, for example the Student Volunteer Army and the volunteerism evident through Community Law Canterbury. In formalising such opportunities and integrating them into the law curriculum at Canterbury the faculty recognises the huge benefit such opportunities offer to the university learning environment.

As a result we have a raft of game changing initiatives including the introduction of a Clinical Legal Programme. The key components of New Zealand’s first comprehensive clinical legal programme are a combination of a community engagement requirement and practical professional experience.

The wider goal of the school is to be a tangible asset to our community, both professional and civil, in terms of teaching and learning and also research. As a result of the earthquakes and consequent difficulties in our society our academics are engaged in internationally important and domestically relevant research in disaster management, resource management, administrative law, constitutional law and insurance law to name a few.

We no longer have the luxury of being an aloof ivory tower; our graduates need to be real-world ready and, as with most United States Ivy League academics, our scholars need to concern themselves with the problems of our times.

With an increased focus on the community by our academics comes increased opportunities for our students.

The first component of our new programme is the much publicised requirement of 100 hours of community/professional engagement. Come 2015 all students will have to complete 100 hours over the life of their degree in order to graduate. This work need not be voluntary work. While many of these hours will involve actual legal work some may involve the application of problem solving skills outside of the purely legal environment.

In addition to the 100 hours of community/professional engagement all students will have to complete one of the following three internships.

Option one is the Legal Internship, which is already the single largest legal internship paper in New Zealand.

Option two is the Community Law Internship. This will involve students not only working at Community Law Canterbury but also any one of the 23 other community law centres in the country.

The third internship is the New Zealand Public Interest Project Internship (NZ PIP). Canterbury is about to launch New Zealand’s first public interest centre in which students will be engaged for credit to write submissions on Law Commission papers, be involved in the select committee process of public engagement, and work on issues and cases of public interest importance from civil issues, administrative law issues through to criminal law interests of justice issues. We are currently shortlisting an impressive field of applicants for New Zealand’s first Director of Clinical Legal Studies.

The School of Law at Canterbury University is determined to make a difference in society through the training of outstanding law graduates who have real-world knowledge and experience, by supporting and nurturing the legal profession, and ensuring we are practically relevant to the New Zealand community we serve.

The eyes of the world are on Christchurch and we believe our community to be the most exciting and dynamic region in New Zealand. Due to the challenges we face in Christchurch students have the opportunity to be real leaders, to distinguish themselves from other graduates and to be a part of something bigger than themselves – the redevelopment of a society.

Last updated on the 17th March 2016