Written by Ilinca Tuvene, Advocate Casework Volunteer Alumni

Before I applied for a volunteer casework role with Advocate, I had been considering a career in human rights law for some time, and was unsure where to start. Most people’s reaction when I said I wanted to work in human rights was: “Oh, but it’s so difficult, so competitive, so poorly paid”. I wanted to know whether this profession was worth the sacrifices – and, after my time at Advocate, I can certainly say that it is. I would also like to recommend to younger students that are considering this path to try to shun the negative voices and commit themselves to what fulfils them, because in the long run it will be the most rewarding.

My experience at Advocate has been an absolutely invaluable addition to my legal studies. Not to diminish the value of a legal education – I find the theoretical aspects of the law fascinating, but law school can sometimes feel elitist and highly formulaic. At Advocate, I garnered a practical understanding of the skills required from a practicing lawyer.

As a casework volunteer, I started by reviewing new applications – I had to organise the documents in a coherent order and draft case summaries for the supervising caseworkers. My tasks got more complicated as the internship progressed, and I felt very lucky to be entrusted with building court bundles and contacting barristers’ chambers in order to assign cases. The circumstances surrounding Covid-19 made the entire experience more independent. Oftentimes, it felt like a job and less like a student internship, as the supportive Advocate team trusted us to meet our deadlines.

The casework volunteer role helped me immensely with my confidence. I had always been terrified of writing (a significant issue when you are a law student), but the tight deadlines and the importance of helping the vulnerable people that depended on us made me move past my unhealthy perfectionist habits and just do the work.

Most importantly, few things compare to the rewarding feeling of placing a case with a barrister, and knowing that a vulnerable person is getting professional legal assistance. Although I still feel confused as to whether I should pursue a solicitor or a barrister path, working for Advocate has solidified my commitment to pursue a career in human rights and civil liberties.