The Bar opens up opportunities
From a tropical tourism town in Far North Queensland to a major Anti-Discrimination case currently underway in South Australia, a JCU Law degree has made a huge difference to the life of Melia Benn.
As one of only two Aboriginal women barristers in Queensland practising at the Private Bar, Melia has experienced exciting career opportunities after graduating from JCU’s Bachelor of Laws in Cairns in 2013.
Joining the Bar was not Melia’s immediate goal when she enrolled in the Bar Practice Course in 2018, but meeting a mentor and being offered a unique opportunity accelerated her path. With encouragement and guidance from her existing Cairns mentors, some of whom are now her Endeavour Chamber colleagues, Melia joined the Private Bar in January this year.
Although Melia’s experience is focused in criminal law, she’s happy to pursue other areas of practice as well as continue to practice in criminal defence — something Melia says, “is the freedom being at the Bar gives you”.
Earlier this year, Melia assisted in a test case before the Federal Court in Adelaide.
“It was an Anti-Discrimination action involving Native Title holders and a poll for a potential nuclear waste site on native title land.”
Melia’s passion for learning and protecting the vulnerable has taken her to a variety of roles, including working as the Counsel Assisting the Coroner and The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions before becoming a barrister. Melia’s experience is an example of the incredible career opportunities studying a Bachelor of Laws at JCU can offer.
“You can never know enough. There is just so much to learn, so much to do, so much to change.”
JCU Law graduate Melia Benn