4th-year student, Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
Law is something she has always been interested in, says Jamee Miles who is now in the final semester of her Bachelor of Laws (Honours).
“I was told at school that I would make a great lawyer due to my persuasive nature. My decision to actually enrol in a law degree was motivated by personal circumstances where I felt helpless at the hands of the law. I never wanted anyone to experience that, so I decided to put myself in a position where I was able to help people navigate the legal world in a culturally appropriate way.
“I knew completing a law degree was going to be a real challenge, as I left high school at a young age and had to finish my NCEA level 1, 2 and 3 on a course. I chose to come to AUT because the university had recently started offering law courses at its South Campus, which was close to home. AUT is known for supporting students and I knew I was going to need support because I had children at home, a household to organise and a part-time job.”
She has thoroughly enjoyed meeting people with similar goals, Jamee says.
“I was told in my first year at AUT that studying law was like ‘rewiring your brain’, and I understand that completely now. Most of my law courses have challenged me and expanded my way of thinking. That growth is something I appreciate and enjoyed the most looking back over the years.”
Supported to thrive
Jamee says she wouldn’t hesitate to recommend studying law at AUT.
“Throughout my studies, I’ve felt supported and encouraged, which has played a key role in my success at university as well as all the doors that have opened for me.
“In my first year, Suzanne McMeekin was particularly encouraging and taught me to keep my ideas relevant and to the point. Associate Professor Khylee Quince provided reassurance and was our safety net while learning about the same laws that are often used to oppress our people. She also made me feel that I could do things that I once thought I couldn’t. Dr Katey Thom pushed me to trust my thoughts and not be afraid to speak my truth. Each of these lecturers created moments that sparked a thought I will take with me beyond law school.”
She is proud of how far she has come since her early days at university, says Jamee who has already secured a graduate role with Bell Gully once she finishes her studies; an opportunity that opened up through the Tupu Toa internship programme.
“My number one goal I set for myself was to not repeat any courses. Now that I’m in my final semester, I’m proud to say that I have achieved this goal. I’ve also managed to become an honours student, which was something that I never thought I was capable of. Other achievements I’m especially proud of include representing AUT at the Hui-ā-Tau Māori Law Conference, on the national stage for the Māori issues moot competition as well as at the Māori negotiations competition held in Christchurch.”
Advice for other students
Give everything a go, Jamee advises other students considering starting a law degree.
“Compete in law competitions, which are a fun practical way to test your legal skills without worrying about grades. Get involved with the student societies who offer such good support. Network – meet and greets or anything that gets you into a law firm where they can match your name with your face will make a difference when applying for jobs later.”
It's also important to have a good study group, she adds.
“Law is perspective based, and I would have really struggled without having my study group to debate topics with.”