Claire Gay has always wanted to pursue a legal career in social justice and law reform.
Originally from Melbourne, Claire came to The Australian National University (ANU) because of its commitment to social justice and the sense of community it offers.
While she was initially more interested in studying philosophy than law, Claire found a “real sense of home within the law school” after she was able to choose law elective courses.
“The ANU College of Law’s commitment to social justice and law reform really shone through in those later year courses,” Claire said.
“It was through the many opportunities that makes ANU unique, and the academics who make up the law school, that I was able to pursue the areas of law that interested me the most.
“The University’s location in Canberra, its ability to attract exceptional academics, and the hands-on approach and support offered to students has made the law school a fantastic place to study.”
Critical legal theory, human rights law and forced migration law were the areas of law that most interested Claire during the course of her degree.
“I think that these areas of the law are at the forefront of addressing key issues in Australia, and that they can play a pivotal role in bringing about positive change,” she said.
While at ANU, Claire was “not only taught by, but also mentored by some incredible academics” at the law school.
This includes Professor Jolyon Ford who has offered Claire “great guidance” towards the end of her degree and as she “transitions to post-law school life”.
Claire also really appreciated the support she received from Dr Jessica Hambly when she supervised her honours thesis.
“Not only was Dr Hambly incredibly supportive, but she encouraged me to pursue my interest in critical refugee law studies,” Claire said.
“His commitment to social justice through the law was inspiring and I was fortunate to receive his guidance throughout the internship,” she said.
The internship project Claire undertook drew on her interest in political philosophy and desire to explore the impact of Australia’s #MeToo movement in federal politics.
“As part of the project, I was able to interview some of Australia’s most important thinkers and advocates for reform of the federal parliament,” Claire said.
“They generously gave their time and allowed me to really engage with the current debate, and to push for greater reform.”
Claire wrote a paper as part of her internship, entitled Reframing Australian Federal Parliament as a Gendered Institution. She also organised a major LRSJ event, Creating a safe parliamentary workplace for women: Next steps for the Jenkins report, which featured several of the interviewees from her internship alongside other high-profile women.
“The panel discussion was billed as one of the University’s flagship events during the week of International Women’s Day, and provided a fascinating conversation on this issue,” Claire said.
Claire later spoke about her internship experience as part of an event, ANU Social Justice Internships Showcase, hosted by the ANU College of Law.
Now she has graduated, Claire intends to continue her work in the social justice space with the support of the ANU Travel Grant for a Legal Internship in London.
“I was fortunate to receive a grant from the law school to undertake an internship with the Human Rights Institute and the International Bar Association in London, which I’ll begin at the start of next year,” she said.
After her internship in London, Claire will take up an internship with the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations and Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
“Beyond that, I’d like to pursue a legal career with a social justice bent, which the ANU law school has supported and encouraged me to do.”