Fun fact – Professor Prue Vines is one of our wonderful and highly accomplished alumni! While there is a lack of written documentation about our history as a group, it is evident that a strong passion for community legal education and empowerment have sustained SLEG’s run for so long. 

In our current model, SLEG has a metropolitan and regional portfolio where UNSW Law & Justice students create, organise and present workshops to high school students about their legal rights and responsibilities in areas such as police powers, sexting and human rights. SLEG visits schools with identified lower socio-economic status and recognise the additional barriers that students may face in that context. To address this, SLEG speaks about pathways after schools, including admission to university and eligibility for UNSW Gateway – a three-year program for students in Years 10 – 12.

How does SLEG prepare graduates to become future leaders?

SLEG prepares graduates to become future leaders in three key ways. Firstly, SLEG teaches UNSW students fundamental public speaking skills and hones their ability to deliver and explain complex legal concepts to audiences with low legal literacy. This is especially important for graduates preparing for client-facing work.

Both executive members and presenters learn valuable skills in teamwork and time management. SLEG also instils core values of social justice and the importance of access to justice. We consider these values to be fundamental for any future leaders in law.

What are the key objectives of SLEG?

SLEG’s key objectives can be summarised by our slogan: educate, engage, empower. We seek to bridge the socio-economic gap experienced by disadvantaged and regional youth by educating them about their legal rights and responsibilities. To educate, we engage with young people, make our content interactive, interesting and relevant. Most importantly, we seek to empower young people. Equipped with the knowledge of the law and an understanding of their rights, we give them the tools to protect themselves and others from abuse of power. Through this, we aim to embody the key value that is espoused on the side of our Law & Justice building – ‘making a difference in this world’.

Maurice Blackburn’s recent financial gift to SLEG has provided the means for 14 Law & Justice students to make the first trip in SLEG’s history to visit schools in Tamworth and other regional NSW regions. What are you aiming to achieve with this trip?

The main aim of our trip was to bridge the educational divide between regional and metropolitan schools by educating students of Tamworth about their legal rights. We presented on a variety of legal areas that are highly relevant to young people including police powers, consumer law, and criminal law. Through our presentations, we hope we made the law more accessible to young people, empowered them to speak up about their rights and to stay informed as the law continues to change.

Another very important goal of this trip was to educate students about post-school opportunities and introduce them to scholarships that are available to regional students. By highlighting some of these opportunities such as UNSW Gateway, we hope to make tertiary education a more accessible post-HSC option.

We also talked to students about the importance of doing something they are passionate about after their HSC. We hope to instil in them the belief that whatever they aspire to do – whether that be going to university, going to TAFE, seeking full-time employment, or taking a gap year – their goals are valid and achievable.

This experience has provided our Law & Justice students a better understanding of the challenges that regional students face when compared to metropolitan students. We hope our presenters were able to share their passion for equity and social justice and used their privilege and their law degree to make a difference.

We are so grateful to Maurice Blackburn for making this trip possible and we look forward to reaching out to more regional students in the future.

How is SLEG looking to make an impact?

Low socioeconomic and regional students face greater difficulties in accessing information about the law. This increases their vulnerability to exploitation – whether that be by employers not paying them the minimum wage, police officers not following the law, or not understanding what constitutes cyberbullying.

Through our presentations, we hope we were able to make students aware of their rights when facing difficult situations and to remember to use the law to protect themselves and others.

We also hope we have made an impact on our UNSW Law & Justice students and created an appetite for the values upon which our Faculty was built upon: service to others, social justice, and ‘defending those who can’t defend themselves’.

The gift from Maurice Blackburn was a tribute to the legacy of the late Ashley Matthews, a former Associate at the firm who believed deeply in the program’s values and objectives.


Karie Mayman, Kirstyn Ho, Catherine Nguyen