AUT this year has welcomed the first cohort of law students to its South Campus in Manukau.
To celebrate this milestone, a special networking breakfast event was held at the South Campus on Friday 13 May which brought together more than 25 first year students enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws degree, AUT Law School staff and key members from the judiciary and legal profession.
AUT Dean of Law Professor Charles Rickett says the introduction of the Bachelor of Law (LLB) pathway at the South Campus at the start of this year has attracted strong interest.
“We need to increase access to legal education to a wider range of diverse audiences,” he says.
“By bringing our law degree out to South Auckland, barriers such as distance are removed and this enables our students to study close to home.”
First year law student Tracy Ochibulu says she decided to study law because of her own first-hand experience of how a lack of legal knowledge could be a handicap.
“People are scared of the law because they don’t know how it works,” she says.
“Many members of my community don’t have legal knowledge when the situation calls for it. I want to apply all the knowledge I’ve learnt and give back to my community as a lawyer working for them in the region.”
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Russell McVeagh litigation partner Andrew Butler, and AUT law alumnus and Junior Crown Prosecutor in Manukau, Charlie Piho were guest speakers at the event, and shared words of wisdom about becoming a lawyer, as well as applauding AUT’s introduction of the Bachelor of Laws at its South Campus.
Andrew Butler commended AUT for introducing the law degree to its South Campus.
“Increasing accessibility for people in the region is a great move,” he says.
Butler says the benefits of being a lawyer are tremendous.
“The variety in the workplace, the characters you meet, the help you get to give, the opportunities to learn what other people do, intellectual satisfaction and the ability to contribute to the community, is what makes law a wonderful profession,” he says.
He encouraged students to develop their own way of thinking about the world. “Ask yourself what you want to learn and what gets you out of bed in the morning.”
“If you really get into it, the law will shape how you think about the world,” he says.
“Litigation forces you to think about and confront issues and helps you understand them.”
Charlie Piho, a Junior Crown Prosecutor and solicitor at Kayes Fletcher Walker Ltd, the office of the Manukau region’s first Crown solicitor, Natalie Walker says having a place to study law in South Auckland is a huge win for the region.
“I’m proud to be a graduate of a Law School that has made studying law more accessible to those who live in South Auckland,” he says.
Piho is a member of the very first cohort of AUT Law students who graduated in 2013 and had much to share with these future lawyers about his education journey at the AUT law school.
He explains that the small class sizes, interactive focus, and collaborative environment was what made his experience at AUT Law School so valuable.
His advice for success is to work hard. “Go for it and give it your all. Be curious, be inquisitive, ask questions, and be eager and hungry to learn,” he says. “Take advantage and make the most of your law degree.”
“At the end of it all, graduating alongside my friends is one of the fondest memories I have from my time at AUT Law School.”
“So just go for it and give it your all. Don’t just be part of this special law school, strive to be the part that makes it so special.”
New Zealand College of Law CEO Marcus Martin also used this forum as an opportunity to formally announce an annual law prize to the best performing first year Bachelor of Laws student at AUT South Campus.
Click here to watch Charlie Piho's speech at the event.