Dictum: Savannah Post, Pro Bono Co-Manager
At the Equal Justice Project, we strongly believe that there are a huge number of law students at Auckland who are passionate about equal justice, and are looking for the opportunity to complement their classroom learning with some real world legal experience connected to equal justice issues. For that reason we have decided to highlight the work being done by our managers and volunteers to offer our readers insight into what it is the Equal Justice Project does, and how working with us can enrich your law school experience.
Although our 2015 intake is now complete, if you find yourself inspired by what you read, and you’re going to be studying at Part II level or above in 2016 at Auckland Law School, keep an eye out for the next post in ‘Dictum’, our interview series, and look around the website for updates about what the project’s up to.
Our first interview is with Savannah Post, Pro Bono Co-Manager for 2015. Savannah is in her fifth year studying towards an LLB/BSc Conjoint, majoring in Statistics.
What exactly does the Pro Bono team do?
We provide research assistance to various legal practitioners around New Zealand and the world. Our research often deals with public law issues, particularly human rights. At the moment, we have five different projects investigating a range of issues including discrimination, freedom of expression and indigenous rights.
Were you involved with any similar organizations, or did you do any similar activities, before joining the Equal Justice Project?
The values that underpin the Equal Justice Project are close to my heart. I’ve been involved in a range of community-based initiatives and wrote my honours seminar on indigenous rights issues. I’m really enjoying the work we’ve been doing – it’s both intellectually and personally satisfying.
What's your role as one of the Pro Bono Co-Managers?
Our primary roles as Managers are to source work for the team and to manage our fantastic team of volunteers to make sure we’re working efficiently and producing top-quality work.
What have been some past successes of the pro bono team - are there any high profile issues that you've worked on before?
Our team as a whole has been involved in a wide variety of cases and we are often working away in the background to make sure our practitioners are as prepared as they can be. Unfortunately confidentiality issues prevent us from being too open about the details! As well as our work on specific cases, we’ve also been involved in making submissions to Parliament on a range of high profile issues, such as making a joint submission with the Human Rights Foundation on the Correction Amendments Bill 2011, which you can view here.
What has Pro Bono been up to so far this year?
We’ve had one uber-secret project which we’ve already completed this year – it was high intensity but the case is likely to be high profile once it goes public, which is exciting! Again, confidentiality issues make story-telling a little complex, but this year we’ll be working towards appeals in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, as well as standard High Court judicial review applications and so on.
What will Pro Bono be getting up to this year?
More of the same!
How do you see what the Pro Bono team does as fitting into EJP's work as a whole?
I think our team helps to promote equal justice in a substantive sense. We use our legal research skills to help practitioners working towards worthy causes, hopefully saving them some time and making it easier for them to take on these complex and not particularly profitable cases.
Do you think that your experience with EJP has enriched your time at law school?
Absolutely – it’s such a satisfying experience and it’s easy to see the results. It’s also really useful for developing my legal and personal skills. The administrative aspect of EJP forces me to organise my time efficiently, while the legal research experience is really invaluable.
How do you find balancing EJP with your other commitments?
It was a pretty busy start to the year with getting administration sorted and choosing volunteers, but it's starting to calm down now. The good thing about EJP is I can take my work around with me on my laptop, so it's easy to find a few minutes here and there to get things done!
Speaking as an individual, rather than as Pro Bono manager, what issue or issues do you think are the most important social justice concerns in New Zealand at present?
I think the most obvious issue, which is also receiving significant media attention, is inequality across our society. So many of our social ills – health, crime etc – are inextricably linked to societal factors, especially poverty. I hope that our work in EJP goes some way towards promoting the interests of the more vulnerable members of society.
Thank you for your time Savannah. All the best for Pro Bono this year!
The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect those of the Equal Justice Project. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. No information on this blog will be understood as official. The Equal Justice Project makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The Equal Justice Project will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information.