I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my law degree when I started it, I just knew having it would open doors for me.
Third-year Arts/Law student Kylie Beutel has been among a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students to take part in the ACT Supreme Court Indigenous Mentoring Program.
In July Kylie observed a criminal trial from behind the scenes, gaining an insight into several aspects of the criminal justice system from jury empanelment through to sentencing.
The defendant in the trial was accused of drink spiking and attempted sexual assault. He was acquitted of attempted sexual assault and pleaded guilty to the unauthorised administration of a declared substance.
Kylie said she had found studying Criminal law more complex than she had anticipated, so being able to learn more about how juries are selected and directed, as well as how evidence is presented would be useful to other private law courses.
“It will be particularly relevant when I take my evidence course in my fifth year,” she said.
The trial was presided by Justice Michael Elkaim.
ANU College of Law Dean Professor Stephen Bottomley was among several leaders in the Canberra legal education and professional sector, including the ACT Courts and the ACT Bar Association, to sign a memorandum of understanding inviting Indigenous Australian law students to be mentored in chambers, firms and the courts.
The mentorship is one of a number of opportunities Kylie has made the most of while studying law and international relations at ANU.
She recently completed a part-time internship with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and she is currently doing another internship with the Department of Social Services. She is interested in pursuing a career in international law or policy.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my law degree when I started it, I just knew having it would open doors for me,” she said.
“I would love to work in the United Nations, and I know having a law degree will give me the skills to compliment a career in international policy development.
“In particular, the International Law course delved into diplomacy and dispute resolution and it really complimented my international relations major in my Arts degree.”
Next week Kylie will fly to Canada to do a semester at the University of Alberta.
She credited in part the Tjabal Indigenous Higher Education Centre for the great experiences she has had as a student, saying it played a big part in her decision to study at ANU.
“It’s one of the best Indigenous centres I’ve seen at a university,” she said.
“I met Associate Professor Asmi Wood before I began and the support I received from him and the admissions team really made up my mind to come here.
“It made my Mum’s mind up too, she said ‘you’re going here’.”