Benny Jones has long aspired to advocate for the rights of the vulnerable, particularly children, youth and ethnic women. When her role as a water laboratory technician at SGS Mineral Services New Zealand was made redundant, she took it as a sign - and took to the law. Insights spoke to Benny about her path to the law, what she loves most about her work, and how the PLSC helped prepare her for life as a lawyer.
The thrill of working in a natural legal environment
“I currently volunteer with the Community Law Waikato as a legal assistant, and I work as a casual administrator for Clark and Gay Lawyers in Waihi, New Zealand,” said Benny. “You need to be able to work under pressure, manage your time well to meet deadlines, and get the job done.”
As a new lawyer, she had to take a practical approach to rise to these new challenges.
“I’ve learned how to effectively approach legal matters, following the correct procedures and drafting documents to an acceptable legal standard. You always need to keep in mind that you are dealing with real-life legal issues, which can be quite different to classroom case studies. Everybody makes mistakes; the important thing is to learn from them.”
Benny was drawn to the law as a platform to advocate for the rights of the vulnerable.
“I am very passionate about children’s rights,” said Benny. “I want to be a voice to help end the violence against children, who are the future leaders of our great nation. I also want to help women, especially ethnic migrant women experiencing domestic violence.”
“Problem solving is the most rewarding aspect of what I do,” said Benny. “For me, the most exciting part of the job is working in a natural legal environment. You get the opportunity to analyse a situation and identify its legal issues by observing how lawyers approach each case. It’s given me a practical understanding of the area of law I would like to practice, and a direction to my career.”
Learning real world, practical skills through the GDLP
The College’s GDLP program gave Benny a chance to test her legal skills in a practical context.
“It gave me the ‘hat’ I would wear in legal practice,” said Benny. “Through the GDLP, you gain the opportunity to repeatedly practise fundamental legal skills - such as drafting letters to clients, letters of advice, file notes to solicitors and other legal documents. This involves learning formats and templates available for certain legal documents, and observing what lawyers do, and how they do it.”
“The College’s GDLP has provided the practical experience and confidence I need to join the legal fraternity.”
She highly recommends the GDLP.
“It helps you bridge the gap from law graduate to lawyer,” said Benny. “You get a feel of what it’s like to practice law during your work placement, and the GDLP equips you with the fundamental and practical legal skills you need for legal practice.”
“Given how competitive the job market is, the GDLP allows you to distinguish yourself from others - and in my view, is one of its critical advantages,” said Benny. “Before I undertook the College’s GDLP program, I had no luck getting a foot in the door. Through my work placement, I gain the entry-level experience needed to kick start my career in law.”