David Mejia-Canales explains how completing the Juris Doctor opened the door to a diverse and rewarding legal career.
Advisor, Parliament of Victoria
You graduated from RMIT in 2012; tell us about what you have been doing since then.
My law degree is like having a key to several doors at once. It has prepared me to undertake diverse tasks and as excellent opportunities presented themselves, I've been qualified to take them on.
I've worked in human rights law, Aboriginal rights and land rights advancement and have worked at a law firm. I've also run a research project into the needs of LGBTIQ asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. I am now working with the Parliament of Victoria as an Electorate Officer and Advisor. The skills I have gained from my studies have served me well in fighting for justice, particularly social justice.
What did you like best about the program / your time at RMIT?
The focus on learning through doing. The lecturers combine theoretical know-how with practical experience at every stage of the program. Students have the opportunity to get involved in everything from simulated negotiations, dispute resolutions, client interviewing and moot courts. I truly believe that the Juris Doctor prepared me to be a great lawyer with a global outlook.
One of my most memorable experiences was completing a study tour at RMIT Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City. This was an invaluable experience which gave life to my studies and made them relevant to the world beyond the classroom.
What has been the greatest accomplishment of your career?
Graduating was an incredible achievement. There is no underestimating how challenging the study of law can be. Graduating was the culmination of long hours of work and I will never forget that moment.
Also, as an advisor to a member of Parliament, I've been lucky enough to be able to directly contribute to fixing numerous problems and issues that we face but also to be a part of the law making process.
One of the best achievements of my career has been directly working with the Parliament to create a Bill to put forward to the Legislative Assembly for approval. To think that the work that I have done could become the law of Victoria is thrilling. It's such an incredible feeling to have learnt about the process and actually see it in practice and actively contribute to it.
What advice do you have for others considering the Juris Doctor? What can prospective students expect?
The best way to prepare is to immerse yourself in the law, its traditions, its history, challenges and problems. Undertaking a legal education is atremendous amount of work that is counterbalanced by the incredible skills you develop and the satisfaction of completing such a challenging but rewarding degree.
The program develops your ability to think critically about problems, analyse ideas, construct arguments and develop solutions, legal or not. Prospective students can expect to be challenged but to always be supported by the lecturers and staff at RMIT.
Where can you see your career in law leading?
I would like to continue doing what I'm doing, contributing to and improving the law as well as public policy. I certainly love my job as an advisor to a member of Parliament, although I've never worked as hard as I do now, I truly enjoy it.