The impact of a work learning scholarship
WMD Law’s Sutherland office has the longest running Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Scholarship at the University of Wollongong (UOW). For nearly 20 years, the firm has given UOW students financial assistance and practical work experience through the scholarship program.
Anika Fleet was awarded a WMD Law WIL Scholarship in 2007 when she was completing her Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws at UOW. Now, Anika is a Principal Lawyer at the firm where she specialises in commercial law, litigation, and estate disputes.
“I remember being so excited when I got the call telling me I was the scholarship winner that year. I had never worked at a law firm before, and I liked WMD Law because it was a reputable firm with practice areas like commercial law, property law, family law, criminal law, and estates that all complement each other.
“At the commencement of the program, WMD Law gave me the opportunity to work with various teams in the firm who were practicing different areas of law. I would report to different people in different areas which helped to understand how a legal firm operates and allowed me to gain experience across different areas of law,” said Anika.
Anika started the scholarship, which included 60 days of work experience, in her fourth year of study. She was able to use the scholarship’s work experience towards the compulsory internship component of her degree, while also being paid for her work.
“When I finished my placement in 2008, I was offered a position as a law clerk at WMD until I graduated and then a lawyer position after I was admitted to practice law. Since I was admitted to practice in 2009, I have been working exclusively in commercial law and litigation and have built up my experience in those areas while working at the firm.”
Anika said that she loves meeting the WIL scholars each year who are studying and working at the firm.
“Last year’s scholar is now working with us part-time while she finishes her studies and has been assisting me with research, drafting letters and drafting documents.
“I’m really proud to share my experience with our new scholars and scholar graduates – giving them work related advice and also telling them about the firm and how varied and diverse the practice of law can be.”
Anika’s biggest satisfaction comes from when she helps her clients and protects their interests.
“Having satisfied clients and helping them to achieve the best outcome for their matter is what motivates me most.
“For anyone considering applying for a Work Integrated Learning Scholarship, I would say absolutely apply. It’s such a great opportunity when workplaces offer these to students. It gives students a foot in the door, the chance to build experience and confidence in the workplace, and form relationships with people who could become mentors or even life-long friends.”
In 2021, WMD Law started a new WIL Scholarship program at their South Coast offices in Bega and Merimbula, expanding the program to students from regional and rural areas of NSW.
Greg Dickson, CEO of WMD Law, said, “We have been enthusiastic supporters of the Work Integrated Learning Scholarship since it was first proposed by UOW about 20 years ago. It provides needed and valuable practical training and experience for Law students and graduates, but it also allows us to experience working with talented young lawyers, many of whom we have asked to join our team on a permanent basis. We expect that the expansion of this program to our regional offices will see the same mutual benefits develop.”
If you are interested in starting a WIL Scholarship, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.