The Sydney Law School practitioner-in-residence program engages and integrates the expertise of legal practitioners with the school's centres, staff, students, alumni and friends, as well as school partners and stakeholders, the University generally, and the wider community.
The program forms part of a greater scheme to help realise the School's vision and mission as embodied in its 2020-2025 strategy, Reimagining Sydney Law School, and bridge the gap between education and the profession.
Specifically, the School's vision is to transform the legal landscape and innovate through its central pillars - education, research and community engagement, and it's mission is to inspire legal minds within the Law SChool, the profession and beyond.
Through the program, the School is able to engage and build closer links with the profession by providing a space where the legal practitioner can further their development while also leveraging their expertise and knowledge in a way that engages and contributes to the scholarly life of the School.
Meredith Simons has practised exclusively in criminal law since 2014. She worked at the Aboriginal Legal Service for two years and has been a solicitor at the NSW DPP since 2016. As the inaugural DPP Practitioner in Residence she researched restorative justice processes, with a particular focus on their potential use for sexual offending.
"The program has given me a unique opportunity to take a step back from practice to research innovative justice models, in particular restorative justice processes for sexual offending. It has been instructive to delve into the history of restorative justice practices within NSW and explore developments in this area in comparable jurisdictions.
"Connecting with academics and practitioners with an interest in the space has established relationships which I hope to sustain upon my return to the DPP and I look forward to sharing my research with both USyd and DPP colleagues.
"I have also appreciated the opportunity to engage with students and it is exciting to see the University’s commitment to fostering student interest in criminal law and public interest career paths."
Sharmilla Bargon is a specialist employment and discrimination law practitioner. She is a Senior Solicitor at Redfern Legal Centre and coordinates the Employment Rights Legal Service, a statewide employment rights service in NSW. She enjoys assisting migrant workers and working on broader law reform campaigns to achieve systemic change.
Regina Featherstone has been working to secure the rights of refugee and migrant workers since she started practising law. She is a Senior Lawyer in the Human Rights Law Centre Whistleblower Project and brings a unique expertise to empowering clients to right wrongdoing and breaking down structural barriers that prevent truth-telling.
Regina and Sharmilla share a passion for helping women and working towards breaking down systems of oppression for these clients, specifically, women experiencing multiple intersecting forms of disadvantage.
As the inaugural Social Justice Practitioners-in-Residence, in August and September 2023, Regina and Sharmilla researched the use of non-disclosure agreement in resolving sexual harassment matters, and hope to use this work to advocate and reform legal practice.
"The residence has given me the opportunity to pause my busy legal practice, and give thought and form to a reform project Regina and I've been thinking and talking about for years. In our day-to-day work, we see so many structural issues with the law: it's a real privilege to get the chance to work towards change."
"Being at the law school means that we have access to expert academic thinkers, resources and the time to develop our work. I am honoured in USYD placing such trust in us and giving us this autonomy to develop our work on this important issue."
"The relentless demands on community legal assistance workers are such that it is a luxury to have time to pause, reflect, research and think deeply about issues of law and justice. I am really pleased that Sydney Law School and the Kim Santow Fund are able to support a residency for social justice practitioners, making a unique contribution to pursuing social justice through law."
- Professor Simon Rice, OAM, Kim Santow Chair of Law and Social Justice
Teela Reid is a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, lawyer, essayist, storyteller and co-founder of @blackfulla_bookclub, a platform that honours First Nation’s Ancestors as the original Storytellers. Teela is a Sydney-based Senior Solicitor practicing in Aboriginal Land Rights litigation. She is also a campaigner for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
In her two years working with the Sydney Law School, Teela has challenged students and staff to consider the ongoing impacts of colonial laws on First Nations and the importance of dismantling systemic racism in our society.
She has also highlighted how, despite colonisation, First Nations laws survive through oral stories, art, and ceremony.
“One of my objectives has been to emphasise the duality of legal systems in place on this continent; the co-existence of Western law and First Law is very real. We will be a much richer society if we are able to understand and value the continuation of our ancient laws first, because they have endured the test of time within our own cultural authorities.”