Reflections from our Melbourne Law School intern: Laura Gleeson

Monday 4 October, 2021

Laura Gleeson is our most recent intern through the Melbourne Law School Public Interest Law Initiative Internship Program, which allows law students to apply their knowledge practically, while making important contributions to our work for subject credit.

Laura made major contributions during her short time with us. As she wrapped up her internship, we asked her to tell us more about herself and her experiences with the McCabe Centre.

What motivated you to do an internship with the McCabe Centre?

After studying food law and policy during my undergraduate degree, I became interested in how law can provide access to safe, healthy and sustainable food. The McCabe Centre offered an opportunity to explore this interest further due to its unique position at the intersection of law, policy and research related to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

The McCabe Centre’s internship program also allowed me to put the skills I developed during my Juris Doctor into practice. Using my legal research and writing skills to produce content that has a real-world impact has been a fulfilling experience. Getting to work alongside experienced legal practitioners and researchers has also provided an invaluable opportunity for development.

Why are you interested in public health law?

The personal interest in health and sustainability I mentioned above led me to study subjects during my undergraduate degree broadly related to public health law. My internship at the McCabe Centre has deepened my understanding and interest by reinforcing how important and interconnected public health law is. I have researched issues related to international trade, human rights and domestic and international law, which has shown me the breadth and depth of this field.

Through the McCabe Centre’s work in treatment and supportive care and its ties to Cancer Council Victoria, I have seen how public health law can have a real-life impact on people affected by diseases like cancer. While the law isn’t always perfect, it can be an effective and important tool for ensuring people have access to the treatment and care they need.

What did you work on during your internship, and what knowledge/experience did you gain from it?

I was fortunate to be involved in a range of interesting and complex projects across both the prevention and treatment and supportive care teams.

My first task involved researching how countries are responding to changes in food packaging and labelling laws through the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade Committee. It was interesting to see how issues of public health play out on an international stage and the obstacles that laws can face during implementation. Through this task, which involved summarising the issues raised by members, I developed my ability to write clearly and concisely about complex areas of law.

I also did research into the enforcement of laws aimed at preventing NCDs. In exploring how different countries draft and implement their various legal measures to combat NCDs, I have gained a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by states when enacting change. This, in turn, has impressed upon me the value of the work undertaken by the McCabe Centre through its publications and workshops.

What do you hope to do after university?

While I have not yet settled on what I want to do after my Juris Doctor, my internship at the McCabe Centre has reinforced how much I enjoy legal research and working in the legal field more broadly.

I love to be constantly learning, and the law provides endless opportunity for growth and development. The varied work I have undertaken at the McCabe Centre has piqued my interest in topics like international trade law, which may otherwise have not caught my attention. I hope that after university I continue to explore new and interesting areas of law and policy.

Working in the legal field also provides a unique opportunity to make a meaningful impact, as evidence by the McCabe Centre’s work. Law can be an effective tool for improving the lives of others, and – when coupled with this public-interest aspect – is extremely rewarding. I hope to carry this through to the work I do in the future.


Internships at the McCabe Centre are organised through our formal collaboration with Melbourne Law School. Students from Melbourne Law School interested in applying for an internship with the McCabe Centre can find more information about the opportunity here

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