NINETY Papua New Guinean law graduates recently sharpened their skills with some of Australia’s top legal experts last week, in a special partnership between the Legal Training Institute (LTI), the Bar Association of Queensland and the Australian Government.

For the fourth consecutive year, members of the Queensland Bar have volunteered their time and experience to training law graduates in a week long program.  The students practiced their commercial litigation and advocacy skills with 13 Australian barristers in a series of workshops, led by Justice John Logan of the Federal Court of Australia.

Speaking at the opening, Justice Logan said the training content had been designed in close consultation with the Chief Justice to address the needs of the growing Papua New Guinean commercial legal sector, and also included criminal law analysis and ethics.  Director of the Legal Training Institute Mrs Pauline Mogish described how the program strengthens essential skills including researching facts, mediation, negotiation, providing sound legal advice to clients and making submissions before a court.

LTI class representative, Ethel Heagi, said the program provided invaluable learnings.

“Not only does it give the opportunity to put into practice the theory that we have learnt over the last for years, but also to refine our skills and build our self-confidence.”

Yala Yatu, who has returned to the classroom after 16 years in the public sector, said becoming a lawyer was a challenging change for a mature age student.  “Education has no ending.  I encourage those who are thinking about doing other things to consider getting into law, to assist our people.”

Similarly, Deputy Solicitor General, Tauvasa Tanuvasa challenged students to become agents of change, and encouraged participants to stand firmly and be proud of the profession they’ve chosen, and to use their abilities and skills to help develop this nation.

Australian High Commission Counsellor, Mark Bailey, said an effective, fair and accessible system of justice was essential to attracting and sustaining investment in PNG and growing its economy.

“We’re very proud to have worked with LTI for almost 20 years, in its critical role of preparing law graduates for admission to practice.  Strengthening the skills of legal students contributes to a more dynamic and proficient legal practice, supporting better justice outcomes, and a stronger PNG.”