University of South Australia

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LAWS 4007 – Legal Professional and Community Service Experience

Course Coordinator: Ms Rachel Spencer

Prerequisites: Nil

Restrictions: Nil

Course aim

The aim of this course is to develop professional skills and values, including UniSA graduate qualities, with a structured analysis of, and reflection on, experience gained in the workplace or in a community service setting. In addition to analysing and reflecting on their personal experience, students will consider the role of legal professionals in the legal system and in society generally.

Course content

Students will attend workshops designed to prepare them for their period of work or community service experience and to assist the preparation of their assessment. The workshops will focus upon developing students’ understanding of work experience or community service as an ‘active’ context for critical reflection on their personal development and their role as a professional in society.

Students will then engage in one of a variety of professional experiences which may comprise a placement at Ombudsman SA.

During the course of their work experience or community service students will also attend seminars where they will present material from their experience for early feedback in relation to their learning.

Following their work experience or community service students must submit a reflective portfolio. Formative feedback on portfolios will be provided by academic staff and supervisors on a regular basis prior to submission

For more information and a copy of the course outline, please visit:

Student Testimonials:

Daniel Ngo

“Interning at Ombudsman SA has taught me that graduating with a law degree does not mean you have to become a lawyer. There are other roles in the work force which the skills you have acquired through your law degree can apply, e.g. research skills, letter writing and problem solving.”

Sarah Randall

sarah randall

How did you go about applying for your placement?

“We had a choice of five different places to apply for placement and I chose Ombudsman SA as my first preference. The university told us if our applications were successful and then we had to email our Supervisor and organise our placement that way.”

When did you conduct your placement with Ombudsman SA?

“My placement was from February to May of 2013 for 10 consecutive weeks, one day per week.”

What sort of activities did you undertake?

“Headnote writing on the case management system, file summaries for the Annual Report, searching documents for various things, research, interpreting statutes and document formatting.”

How would you describe your ‘average day’ at Ombudsman SA?

“I would arrive before 9am. Say hello to everyone. Set up my desk. Go to my supervisor’s office once she was available in order to figure out my work for the day.”

“Staff meetings or presentations were usually on my placement days which were always enjoyable for me. If I finished a first task early I would ask other staff members if they had anything other work for me.”

How has your experience at Ombudsman SA benefitted you?

“Interning at Ombudsman SA has greatly benefited me. It is my only work experience to date (not through lack of me trying) and gave me office experience and confidence to discuss legal issues with experienced persons. It opened my eyes to administrative law too.”

What were the ‘highlights’ of your time with Ombudsman SA?

“The experience it gave me, the people that work in the office and the professional lifestyle it exposed me to.”

James Franze


When did you conduct your placement with Ombudsman SA?

“I conducted my placement every Friday for 10 weeks beginning in late January. I then proceeded to complete a full two weeks of placement in early February.”

What sort of activities did you undertake?

  • Assisting investigations into complaints made against government departments and authorities, and local government councils.
  • Reviewing decisions made in relation to the supply of information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Drafting provisional and final reports in relation to FOI cases and investigations into complaints.
  • Drafting case summaries for Ombudsman’s annual report
  • Reading and summarising judgments from case law.
  • Providing assistance to a local government audit.
  • Interviewing complainants in conjunction with assessment officers.
  • Sitting in on interviews with witnesses in relation to particular matters.

How would you describe your ‘average day’ at Ombudsman SA?

“My average day would consist of being handed a particular finding and conducting research into the complaint or FOI request in order to help the investigation officer make a finding. I would then usually attempt to complete a provisional report on the matter.”

 How has your experience at Ombudsman SA benefitted you?

“I learnt a lot from my placement about the relevant legal principles in which the Ombudsman can conduct an investigation as well as the legal principles in which the Ombudsman will make findings and recommendations. It has helped me get a better grasp of how administrative law operates in South Australia as well as the role of state and local government.”

What were the ‘highlights’ of your time with Ombudsman SA?

“I really enjoyed assisting in a few whistl blower disclosures.”

“I also enjoyed working with everyone there, everyone was very friendly and it was a good working environment to be in. This experience has also led me to my current position, working for the Commonwealth Ombudsman.”