Hannah Ryan and Max Dalton joined the ALRC as part-time interns during Semester 2 2012. Hannah worked on the Age Barriers to Work inquiry, while Max worked mainly on Copyright and the Digital Economy. In this recording they describe their experiences.
Sara Peel (SP): Hello. I’m Sara Peel, Senior Legal Officer at the Australian Law Reform Commission. Welcome to the podcast. Today I’m very pleased to be joined by two of our interns, Max Dalton and Hannah Ryan. We’re talking today to give those who might be considering an internship at the ALRC some idea about what exactly that might involve. First we’ll start with our interns. You’re both law students. Can you tell me a little bit about where you’ve been studying and what stage of your studies you’re up to?
Hannah Ryan (HR): I have been studying at the University of Sydney. I’m a fourth-year law student having combined my Bachelor of Law degree with a Bachelor of Arts.
Max Dalton (MD): And I’m studying Law and International Studies at UNSW, and I’m in my fifth year.
SP: So, in the middle of studying and all your other commitments, I’m wondering what was it about the ALRC internship program that attracted you and made you want to apply.
HR: There were two things that attracted me to the program. The first was it seemed like a really good opportunity to get first-hand work experience actually in the legal area, and the second reason I applied for the legal internship was the testimonials on the website seemed to suggest that interns get a really good experience at the ALRC and were really involved first-hand in the work the ALRC did. So, the work aspect was interesting and also the specific internship and the opportunities offered were what attracted me.
SP: I look forward to talking to you a bit more about those experiences later. Max, what about you?
MD: Similar reasons to Hannah. Basically, I was very interested in getting some practical experience and being able to apply what I’ve been learning throughout my degree and, additionally, I’ve always been interested in the policy aspect of law, and law reform is really a key way that policy can come into play and in turn affect the law.
SP: Ok, well I’d like to hear some of your experiences working on that policy. You’ve both been working at the same time. We’ve been lucky enough to have you both on Wednesdays throughout this semester, but you have been working on different inquiries. So Max, you’ve been working on the Copyright inquiry? Can you tell me about your work with the Copyright team, and maybe a little bit about what that inquiry involves?
MD: Absolutely. The Copyright inquiry is looking into whether current copyright laws need to be changed in light of the technological changes that are happening, and whether or not the current exceptions in the Copyright Act are suitable for the digital environment. So I’ve been helping the Copyright team research what kind of reforms are happening internationally and seeing whether or not some of the ideas that are being generated in other jurisdictions would be appropriate for an Australian context.
SP: So you’ve been doing a bit of research then … and what about attending meetings with external stakeholders, have you been to any advisory committee meetings … can you tell me a bit about the work you’ve been doing in that regard?
MD: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been to several consultations with interest groups that are advocating for particular changes to the law. So that’s been really interesting to meet with those people and get their opinions on how the copyright legal regime in Australia should change and how it would benefit their organisations. That’s been a really great aspect of the internship.
SP: And Hannah, you’ve been working on the Age Barriers to Work inquiry. You’ve been working on quite a few legal areas across that inquiry, so you can you tell us a little bit about that?
HR: The Age Barriers to Work inquiry is quite different to the Copyright inquiry in that it’s not limited to one discrete area of law. Instead it looks at the different areas of law in which laws might incentivise older people to leave the workforce, and ways in which we can encourage older people to stay in the workforce. So it’s looking at addressing a really important social issue, and an economic issue. Like Max, I’ve also had the opportunity to go to consultations with different industry groups, and also a meeting with the expert advisory group, which was really interesting to observe, because it was a lot of high-level academics in a lot of areas of law that the inquiry was looking at. In addition to that, I’ve also done some research tasks, for very specific areas of law, and also more generally looking at the social issues the inquiry is looking at.
SP: Great. Thanks for that Hannah. Can you tell me about whether there have been any particular challenges you’ve faced in the course of your work for either of those inquiries?
HR: For me the biggest challenge has probably been just getting my head across all the different areas of law that the inquiry is looking at. So, it ranges from things like taxation and superannuation, to labour law and even migration law. And it can be quite difficult to get a grasp on all those things all at once, so I guess the breadth of the inquiry was the biggest challenge for me, but it’s also been one of the most interesting things, seeing how this economic issue plays out in lots of different areas of law.
MD: Well, I’ve never actually studied copyright law in my degree. It’s a highly conceptual area of the law, so the challenges I face are similar to Hannah’s, getting my head around the nitty gritty parts of the law and the debates that are going on around the various exceptions that exist an whether or not we need more and how it links into economic innovation. It’s been a great experience to try and bounce ideas off the legal team and try and learn really what copyright law is all about.
SP: So moving from challenges to the fun parts, anything in particular that you’ve enjoyed while you’ve been working at the ALRC?
MD: I’ve enjoyed all of it really, but I suppose if I had to choose, the best part of the internship has been meeting a lot of really interesting people, both the legal officers, the Executive team, and also the other interns here. As well as Hannah and myself, there’s also an international intern who’s visiting from the US, so it’s been really great to get insights from the legal team as to what’s involved in working in a law reform commission, and just the social aspect of getting to meet some new people.
HR: My comments are going to be similar to Max’s. Not only is the job itself really interesting, but the workplace is probably the friendliest I’ve ever worked in. It’s small, so you get to know everyone, and everyone takes a real interest in you even though you’re ‘just an intern’. That includes even the President, who has really taken a mentor roll to us – Ros – which has been really great.
SP: Thanks very much Hannah and Max. I’m looking forward to seeing both your names in front of the respective reports for the inquiries you’ve been working on. And for those who are interested in more details about the ALRC internship program, please visit our website at www.alrc.gov.au.