2016 CAREERS GUIDE PART TWO: BEYOND CORPORATE EDITOR & UTS LSS CAREERS (PUBLICATIONS) DIRECTOR Breanna NOBBS SUB-EDITOR Lydia WATSON-MOORE SUBCOMMITTEE Nancy CHEN Karla HART Carina LAM Tahniya SHERIFF Sabrina ZHANG DESIGNER David SIMPSON CONTRIBUTORS Thalia ANTHONY Crown Solicitor’s Office (CSO) Nick COMMINS Rima DABLIZ Jerome DORAISAMY Mikaela ELDRIDGE Aisyah FARRAR Stevie GHIASSI Anitha REDDY Lauren SINGH Romy SIRTES John SUTTON Wenee YAP Alice ZHANG
DEAN OF LAW Professor Lesley HITCHENS UTS LSS PRESIDENT Bryce CRAIG UTS LSS VICE PRESIDENT (SPONSORSHIP & CAREERS) Sharni NICHOLS WITH THANKS TO Print Portal Factory | Unit 4, 102-112 Edinburgh Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204 www.printportal.com.au
UTS LAW STUDENTS’ SOCIETY C/-FACULTY OF LAW UTS PO BOX 123 BROADWAY NSW, 2007 AUSTRALIA P: +61 2 9514 3448
Copyright & Disclaimer © 2016 UTS Law Students’ Society This publication is copyright. Except where permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of this publication may in any form or by any means (electronic or otherwise) be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any process, without specific written consent of the UTS Law Students’ Society. Enquiries are to be addressed to the publishers. Disclaimer: The articles and opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Law Students’ Society, the editor, or the UTS Faculty of Law. Although the editor and authors have taken every care in preparing and writing the guide, they expressly disclaim and accept no liability for any errors, omissions, misuse or misunderstandings on the part of any person who uses or replies upon it. The editor, authors and UTS Law Students’ Society accept no responsibility for any damage, injury or loss occasioned to any person or entity, whether law student or otherwise, as a result of a person relying, wholly or in part, on any material included, omitted or implied in this publication. The user of this guide acknowledges that he or she will take responsibility for his or her actions and will under no circumstances hold the editor, authors or UTS Law Students’ Society responsible for any damage resulting to the user or anyone else from use of this publication.
C ONTENT S: EDITOR’S FORE WORD
PRE SIDENT’S W ELC OME
DE A N’S W ELC OME
THE W ELLNE SS DOC TRINE S
PA RT ONE: CA REER S IN GOV ERNMENT L AW & PUBLIC INTERE ST L AW OV ER V IE W OF THE GOV ERNMENT SECTOR
FEDER A L GOV ERNMENT:
ADMINISTR ATIVE APPE ALS TRIBUNAL
AT TORNE Y-GENER AL’S DEPARTMENT
AUSTR ALIAN BROADCASTING CORPOR ATION
AUSTR ALIAN COMPETITION & CONSUMER COMMISSION
AUSTR ALIAN DEFENCE FORCES - ARMY, AIR FORCE, NAV Y
AUSTR ALIAN FEDER AL POLICE
AUSTR ALIAN GOVERNMENT SOLICITOR
AUSTR ALIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
AUSTR ALIAN L AW REFORM COMMISSION
AUSTR ALIAN NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE
AUS TR A LI A N PRUDENTI A L REGUL ATION AU THORIT Y
AUS TR A LI A N SECURITIE S & IN V E S TMENT COMMIS SION
AUS TR A LI A N TA X ATION OFFICE
COMMON W E A LTH OMBUDSM A N
DEPA R TMENT OF FOREIGN A FFA IR S & TR A DE
THE DEPA R TMENT OF PRIME MINIS TER & CA BINE T
OFFICE OF THE AUSTRALIAN INFORMATION COMMISSIONER
RE SER V E BA NK OF AUS TR A LI A & THE TRE A SURY
STATE GOV ERNMENT:
NSW CROWN SOLICITOR’S OFFICE
NSW DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
THE NSW L AW REFORM COMMISSION
CRIMIN A L L AW:
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
COMMONWE ALTH DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
NSW PUBLIC DEFENDERS OFFICE
C ONTENT S:
PUBLIC INTERE ST L AW:
ABORIGINAL LEGAL SERVICE
THE AUROR A PROJECT
COMMUNIT Y LEGAL CENTRES
THE NSW BAR A SSOCIATION
THE NSW OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT & HERITAGE
THE PUBLIC INTEREST ADVOCACY CENTRE
REFUGEE ADVICE & CA SE WORK SERVICE
TIPSTAVES & A SSOCIATESHIPS
PA RT T WO: OTHER LEGA L PR AC TICE A RE A S
PR ACTISING IN AUS TR A LI A
THE COLLEGE OF L AW
S T UDENT A DVOCACY
A S SIS TA NT TO A BA RRIS TER
LIFE A S A CRIMIN A L L AW Y ER
M Y JOURNE Y FROM UNI V ER SIT Y S T UDENT TO CRIMIN A L DEFENCE L AW Y ER
WORK ING FOR A SOCI A L JUS TICE FIRM
W ELFA RE RIGHT S CENTRE
3 0 - 31
PA RT THREE: A LTERN ATE LEGA L CA REER S
LIFE IN ACA DEMI A
CA REER S BE YOND THE COUR TROOM
ENTREPRENEURI A L V ENT URE S
THE LE A RNING PROJECT
LEGA L PUBLISHING
F U T URE-PROOFING YOUR LEGA L F U T URE
4 5 - 47
FROM THE EDITOR Whether you have just started your law degree and are eagerly exploring future career options, or nearing completion, I am sure you are realising the diverse career options available to you. It can seem a bit overwhelming, with so many possibilities! This is where we step in to provide you with Part Two of the UTS Law Students’ Society Careers Guide for 2016. As there are many options for your career after law school, we have decided to present this year’s guide in two publications. This second guide will focus on careers beyond corporate law, covering areas like government jobs, criminal law, defamation, advocacy, entrepreneurial ventures, academia, publishing, and technology and the law. This guide aims to be your go-to for information on the different areas of practice beyond corporate law, including experiences from both current students and graduates, and the many opportunities that can be unlocked by a law degree. As students, we often hear countless negative things about our career prospects after graduating, but this guide will show you the numerous doors waiting to be opened. The corporate path is not for everyone, and just because your peers may head down that road, does not mean you have to follow. Take hold of your own future, and take every opportunity you can. I give special thanks to Bryce Craig, the president of our wonderful Law Students’ Society, for his tireless efforts in creating an inclusive environment for all students, and supporting the executive and council members of the society in all of their endeavours. I would also like to thank Sharni Nichols, UTS LSS Vice President (Sponsorship & Careers), and Mat Velcic, UTS LSS Careers (Activities) Director, for their continual support and assistance. I would also like to extend many thanks to the Careers Publications Subcommittee and our talented designer David Simpson, for yet another beautiful publication. We hope that once you are equipped with the information in this guide, you are able to discover your dream, and work diligently at achieving it, despite any challenges you may face along the way. — B r e a n n a Nobbs
PRESIDENT’S FORE WORD One of the most important things to realise at law school is the limitless opportunities your degree can push you towards in the future. A law degree should not be misunderstood to only provide a pathway into corporate law or to only set you up for employment in the legal industry. It is an exciting time to study law and exciting time to put your knowledge and practical skills to good use in the ever-changing and dynamic workforce. Earlier this year we brought you two fantastic publications dedicated to careers in the corporate sector and now we bring you an insight into all things beyond corporate. We thought carefully about how we would brand our efforts in this area, wanting to avoid othering terms such as ‘alternative’ or ‘nontraditional’. Careers in government, policy and criminal law are far from non-traditional, and pursuits in technology, publishing and the entrepreneurial space are increasingly shifting from alternative to mainstream, essential and highly desired. Careers Guide Part Two: Beyond Corporate offers an exciting glimpse into the lives of those thriving in both established and emerging industries. I sincerely hope you enjoy this edition and moreover hope you have had a positive experience with the UTS LSS Careers portfolio this year. We have a fantastic and dedicated team of student volunteers and contributors that have worked tirelessly to keep you up-to-date on a range of careers and keep you well equipped to tackle the challenges ahead. Of course I want to extend a massive thank you to Breanna Nobbs, our Careers (Publications) Director, Sharni Nichols, our Vice President (Sponsorship and Careers) and Mat Velcic, our Careers (Activities) Director. Their combined efforts have lifted the Careers portfolio to new heights this year and I am incredibly grateful. I would also like to thank the entire Careers Publications Subcommittee for their support and involvement, as well as our amazing designer David Simpson for another visually flawless publication. There is no need to feel limited in your career choices or trapped by conventional pathways presented to you. You are in full control of how you use this wonderful degree and where it takes you in life, so keep an open mind and throw yourself into something you love. — Bryce Craig P r e s i d e n t o f t h e U T S L a w S t u d e n t s’ S o c i e t y
MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN The UTS LSS Careers Guide provides a valuable insight into the range of careers available to a law graduate. There is no comprehensive data on the range of career paths pursued by law graduates and employment outcomes. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that there are only a few ways to use your law degree, so this guide is valuable in reminding you of the variety of opportunities. We know that in NSW, as at October 2014, there were 27,575 practising solicitors in New South Wales (see 2014 Profile of the Solicitors of NSW, Final Report (March 2015)). Whilst the majority are in private practices (69.8%), in NSW a substantial percentage work in the corporate and government sectors: corporate (19.3%); and, government (10.9%). In fact, the number working in the corporate sector in NSW has been steadily increasing. There are currently 2,317 practising barristers. However, these figures do not capture the careers of law graduates who are not practising as solicitors or barristers. We know from other statistics that many of you will decide not to practise as a solicitor or barrister, or will move out of practice after a few years. You will be using your law degree in a wide variety of positions. A law degree can be a good foundation for these other career paths, whether you are based locally or internationally. The LSS Careers Guide will be an important source of information here also. Since 2008, the UTS:Law degree has been embedding graduate attributes across its core and elective subjects through the curriculum and assessment. This means at the same time as you have been mastering your legal knowledge you have been developing generic skills such as critical thinking, analysis and evaluation, and communication. Each of our graduate attributes is essential for practice, but they are equally valued by a range of employers outside the legal profession. Extra curricula activities such as the Brennan Justice and Leadership Program, BUiLD (Beyond UTS International Leadership and Development), and the LSS competitions also assist in the development of your graduate attributes and valuable professional skills. Increasingly, the Faculty is offering international opportunities that provide you with unique experiences, whether it be with an NGO in China or with government in Vietnam. International experiences can open your eyes as to what is possible for a lawyer. I regularly receive very positive feedback from law firms, lawyers, judges, and alumni about the quality of UTS:Law graduates. Work-ready, practically-oriented, articulate, and good teamplayers are common descriptions I receive. This feedback indicates the value of a UTS:Law degree which focuses on rigorous legal knowledge and relevant skills. There has been a lot of recent talk about employment in the legal sector, but very often this reporting does not give the full picture about the career paths available. So, review the options and think carefully about how you might want to use your law degree, and know that you will be wellequipped for your chosen career path. B e s t w i s h e s , L e s l e y Hi t c h e n s 8
The Wellness Doctrines Written by Jerome Doraisamy The allure and prestige of top-tier and mid-tier commercial law firms, both in Australia and abroad, is not for everyone. Many others, including myself, are drawn more to the public sector, which encompasses an enormous proportion of legal work available. From government departments to not-for-profits, from criminal and family practices to community legal centres, the breadth and scope of work available both offers you a diverse platform from which you can springboard your career, but also provides avenues through which you can make a meaningful difference as a lawyer in society. Being a lawyer in any sphere comes with its own set of challenges, and the public sector is no different. It is fundamentally important that every individual who enters the public sector not only be aware of the challenges to be faced, but the ways in which you can look after yourself and those around you. To do this, it is crucial that you implement proactive steps to manage your health and wellbeing as a lawyer, rather than simply reacting to a situation if and when it occurs. By doing so, you will give yourself the best possible chance of being the productive, successful lawyer you want to be, because you will be – first and foremost – a healthier, happier person. We are people first and lawyers second, for the latter cannot exist without the former. Over the past two years, I have spoken to dozens of legal professionals across the board: managing partners, judges, senior and junior solicitors, barristers, academics, deans of law schools, human resources managers, graduates and students. From that anthropological research to the writing of this article, I surmise that the key challenges facing lawyers in the public sector – which in turn affects the health and wellbeing of those lawyers – are: • The emotionally draining nature of many client matters, and the idea that those clients may not come to lawyers because they are happy; • The tendency to fail to switch off once one leaves the office, and psychologically carry client’s problems back home; • The tendency to self-medicate with alcohol rather than employ healthier methods to unwind; and • Relative lack of institutional initiatives and activities for lawyers to help maintain a holistic balance. In response to this, and given my own experience of work in the public sector, I think the main signs and symptoms that you need to be aware of, in order to stave off problems with your health and wellbeing, are: • A scenario in which you are unable to seek or find positivity in your work, and subsequently in your life outside of the office; • An inability to “turn your brain off” once you leave the office and focus on the here and now; and • Consistent levels of stress and anxiety, both at the desk and at home.
Psychological distress, anxiety and depression will manifest in different ways for all of us; for me, I often find that I am unable to sleep, my patience and temper becomes shorter, and my skin will start to break out. You will have your own individual idiosyncrasies as well. And if these ever come to the fore, if ever you notice the abovementioned issues happening in your day-today experience, it is a warning for you to take action and remedy the situation. This can be exacerbated by the abovementioned issues facing lawyers in the public sector, or variations on them. With regards to the nature of the work, it can be said that legal work in this sphere can be pessimistic, or negatively geared, in that clients face real personal issues, and there is a tendency to take on those clients’ issues. This then gives rise to a scenario in which you are unable to separate yourself, physically and intellectually, from the problems faced by your clients. By taking your work issues home with you, you reduce your chances of being able to unwind and recharge your batteries, and this is only reinforced by the advent of technological advancements, whereby lawyers have their work emails on their mobile phones or tablet devices. Given the relative lack of funding for public sector legal work, as compared to commercial enterprises, it is fair to say that there aren’t as many institutionalised resources available for lawyers and staff to help them unwind. A corporate law firm is much more likely, for example, to be able to fund a lunchtime yoga class for employees, whereas a community legal centre likely cannot. Given this, it is incumbent upon public sector lawyers to go out and seek whatever physical, emotional, intellectual or even spiritual activity they can find that will help them recharge their batteries and get pleasure and purpose from their lives outside of work. But, as noted, the nature of public sector work can be draining, and thus there is a tendency to unwind via more unhealthy methods, such as self-medication with alcohol. So, how can you find the motivation to do what is needed to proactively look after your health and wellbeing in public sector law, and be the lawyer you want to be? I think one can draw inspiration from remembering the value and altruism of legal work; the knowledge that we as lawyers serve the community around us through adherence to procedure and precedence. People need lawyers, and we as a society need the rule of law in order to function on a day-to-day level. Our work is important, especially at a public sector level. Personally, I draw a lot from these thoughts…and if ever my work is too stressful or overwhelming, I like to remind myself of the importance of what we do. But it is still imperative for us to take individual responsibility for ourselves. We know ourselves best, and what works and doesn’t work. In order to be the best lawyers we can possibly be, we first need to be holistic people. This requires self-awareness to navigate our way through various issues and scenarios, and having the practical and emotional tools to deal with them if ever they manifest. Having such resources at your disposal will not only make you a more productive and efficient public sector lawyer, but you will be happier for it.
Careers in Government Law and Public Interest Law Overview of the Government Sector 10
Federal Government: Administrative Appeals Tribunal
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) does not have a general power to review decisions. It can only review a decision if an Act, regulation or other legislative instrument states that the decision can be reviewed by the AAT. The AAT can review decisions made under more than 400 Commonwealth Acts and legislative instruments. Types of decisions relate to: • child support • Commonwealth workers’ compensation • family assistance, paid parental leave, social security and student assistance • migration and refugee visas and visa-related decisions • taxation • veterans’ entitlements • Australian citizenship • bankruptcy • civil aviation • corporations and financial services regulation • customs • freedom of information • the National Disability Insurance Scheme • passports and • security assessments by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
What is the purpose of the Attorney-General’s Department ? The Attorney-General’s Department delivers programs and policies to maintain and improve Australia’s law and justice framework, and strengthen our national security and emergency management. Through the Australian Government Solicitor, legal services are provided to the Commonwealth, including legal advice and representation.
What sorts of jobs are available at the AAT?
Members of the Tribunal are statutory office holders appointed by the Governor-General. From time to time the AAT seeks to have appointed persons with professional skills or knowledge in areas including aviation, actuary, social work, specialist or general medicine, and compensation law.
Opportunities for Graduates
Policy/Program Graduates will play the role in providing legal and policy advice on issues such as civil law and international law. They will have the opportunity to assist with administering programs and providing services to support access to justice for Indigenous people, or emergency management through national disaster recovery. Legal Graduates will have the opportunity to utilise and strengthen their legal skills through practising law within the Australian Government Solicitor. More information on graduate programs can be found on https:// www.ag.gov.au/About/Careers/Graduateprogram/Pages/default.aspx
Summer Intern Program
This program is for Australian undergraduates who have no more than two semesters to complete in their undergraduate degree or have completed undergraduate degree not more than three years before the program starts. More information on the Summer Intern program can be found on https://www.ag.gov.au/About/Careers/Pages/ SummerInternProgram.aspx
Indigenous Traineeship Program
Under this program you can combine practical work with structured training, obtain a Certificate III or Certificate IV in Government qualifications, and development opportunities. Details on the program can be found on the Australian Public Service Commission website.
Indigenous Graduate Recruitment
All candidates apply through the Australian Public Service Commission website. More information about the Indigenous Career programs currently on offer can be found at http://indigenouscareers.gov.au/
Australian Broadcasting Australian Competition Corporation and Consumer Commission The ABC is a public broadcaster on TV, radio, and online. As a media outlet, legal positions relate to media law, intellectual property law and communications.
Legal services at the ABC include pre and post publication advice for journalists, radio programs, online content, and television shows. The ABC has legal services in dispute resolution, the commercial sector, and acquisitions. Lawyers work on a range of matters including complaints, draft agreements, and commissioning content.
There is no formal graduate program, however graduates are encouraged to apply to vacancies at the ABC. A number of unpaid internships are offered to students in order to be admitted to practice. A number of paid cadetships are on offer, and applications opened in August 2016, for 2017. It is advantageous for students to have some media experience, and the ability to undertake research and writing at an advanced level.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is an independent Commonwealth statutory authority whose role is to enforce the Competition and Consumer Act and a range of additional legislation, promoting competition and fair trading, and regulating national infrastructure for the benefit of all Australians
Opportunities for graduates
Kick-start your career and race ahead of the pack! Become an ACCC graduate. ACCC graduates enjoy working in a high profile agency where they can apply and expand their existing skills and knowledge. Graduates also work with the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). As a constituent part of the ACCC, the AER operates as a separate legal entity. As well as other duties, the AER is responsible for the economic regulation of the wholesale electricity market and gas transmission networks.
What kind of work will a graduate be involved in?
A career with the ACCC will give you the chance to work on a wide variety of key industry issues, consumer protection matters, and significant public interest issues of the day. Be part of a high profile, professional public service agency with city offices in each state and territory across Australia. People looking for interesting and challenging work, who want to do something in the national interest, and who want to work in a collegiate and professional environment, should consider a career at the ACCC.
What kind of work will a graduate be involved in?
A career with the ACCC will give you the chance to work on a wide variety of key industry issues, consumer protection matters, and significant public interest issues of the day. Be part of a high profile, professional public service agency with city offices in each state and territory across Australia.
When can you apply?
6 February 2017 More information: https://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/careers/ graduate-opportunities
Australian Defence Forces - Army, Air Force, Navy Navy Legal Division:
A Navy Legal Officer’s primary duty is to advise Command. They contribute to the Navy mission by providing specialist advice in core legal areas of practice in the Navy relating to military discipline, military administrative law and military operations law. Officers may also appear as advocates in Defence inquiries, or as prosecuting or defending officers before Courts-Martial and Defence Force magistrate trials.
Army Legal Division:
In the Army Corps, legal officers will work in broad fields of disciplinary, administrative, operations, civil and commercial law as well as dealing with legal aid requirements.
Air Force Legal Division:
An Air Force legal officer may provide legal advice to leaders at all levels. Primary areas of practice are administrative law, military discipline law, and international law and operations law.
Requirements: General: • Eligibility: Only Australian citizens are permitted to serve in the Australian Defence Force. Permanent residents may be considered if the position cannot be filled by an applicant who meets all citizenship requirements. • Aptitude: Tests include verbal, spatial, numerical ability, and a general maths test.
Australian Federal Police The Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) responsibilities are to enforce Commonwealth criminal law, combat organised crime, and to protect Commonwealth interests from criminal activity in Australia and overseas. The AFP is Australia’s international law enforcement and policing representative, and the Government’s chief source of advice on policing issues.
Opportunities for law graduates:
The AFP’s 12-month program offers graduates a full time job in a permanent position, doing real work that contributes directly to the outcomes of the AFP. Graduates will work in a global policing agency committed to staying one step ahead in a rapidly evolving criminal environment.
What can graduates expect?
Graduates will meet with executive staff who candidly share their experiences and be exposed to personal and professional development opportunities. Additionally, they will have at least three work rotations across the AFP which often take graduates out of their comfort zone and into places they never thought they would experience.
When can you apply?
More information see https://www.afp.gov.au/careers/graduateprogram
Education: • Navy: Applicants must be admitted to practice in a Supreme Court of a State or Territory in Australia. Candidates are required to provide a current practising certificate or notation of immediate eligibility to obtain a practising certificate. • Army: Applicants must be registered as a Barrister or Solicitor of the High Court of Australia, or of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory of Australia, or to have passed all examinations for admission. • Air Force: As a direct entry graduate, you must have been admitted to practise as a legal practitioner to a Superior Court. If you are not yet admitted to practise but eligible, or will become eligible for admission you will be considered on that basis. Physical: • Navy: Applicants must pass the swim test and physical fitness test to graduate from mandatory Navy Training and to proceed to the Safety of Life at Sea Training that is a requirement for the Recruit School and Officer training. • Army: Applicants must pass a physical fitness test before enlistment, and be medically and physically fit for entry to the chosen occupation. • Air Force: Applicants must pass a physical fitness test before enlistment, and be medically and physically fit for entry to the chosen occupation.
Australian Government Solicitor
Australian Human Rights Commission
What is the purpose of the Australian Government Solicitor?
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works in a number of areas relating to the infringement of human rights. Such areas include matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, age, asylum seekers and refugees, children, disability, international affairs, legal affairs, race, rights and freedoms, sex discrimination and LGBTIQ groups.
The Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) is a group within the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department providing legal services to government, a role that the AGS has fulfilled since Federation and is the sole reason for its existence. The AGS assists the Attorney-General in the role of First Law Officer and advises the Executive Government and all Commonwealth agencies.
Opportunities for graduates
Applications for the 2017 AGD Graduate Program are now closed. Information about the 2018 AGD Graduate Program will be available later in the year. http://ags.gov.au/employment/graduateemployment.html
Lawyers can expect to be involved in resolving complaints of breaches of human rights under federal law, or cases of discrimination. Public enquiries, legal assistance in courts, and providing advice and submissions to government are also part of a lawyer’s job at the AHRC.
Opportunities for graduates
There is no formal graduate program at the AHRC, however, graduates are encouraged to apply to job vacancies at the Commission. The AHRC does not accept volunteers, but does select a small intake of interns, who work with the in house counsel. Internship applications will open in September 2016. Visit the website for more information. www.humanrights.gov.au/about/ jobs/current-vacancies
Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) conducts inquiries into areas of law at the request of the Attorney-General of Australia. Based on its research and consultations, the ALRC makes recommendations to the government, so that it can make informed decisions and undertake law reform. While recommendations do not automatically become law, over 85% of reports have been either substantially or partially implemented. The ALRC is independent of the government and is able to conduct research and consultations without any influence. Inquiries conducted by the ALRC include freedoms inquiry, elder abuse, native title and privacy.
What do lawyers do at the ALRC?
If successful in attaining a role as a policy advisor, you could expect to be involved in making recommendations for law reform, and adopting new or more effective methods for administering the law and dispensing justice.
Opportunities for graduates
The ALRC offers unpaid voluntary internship opportunities for law students, working alongside commission staff and legal interns. There is no formal graduate program at the ALRC, however, graduates are encouraged to apply for vacancies at the Commission.
Internships run for a 3 week period between either: 9 Jan – 27 Jan 2017; or 30 Jan – 17 Feb 2017 Applications close: 26 October 2016 For more information, see http://www.alrc.gov.au/about/legalinternshipprogram
Australian National Audit Office The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) helps to ensure that Australia’s public administration is accountable to the parliament and the public it serves. As well as financial audits, the ANAO also conducts performance audits and assurance reviews, highlighting areas where improvements can be made to benefit all Australians. It is a satisfying career in an environment that supports high performance and work and life balance.
Opportunities for graduates
The ANAO needs people with a whole range of different skills, not just people with accounting qualifications. If your degree requires great conceptual and analytical abilities, strong communication and writing skills and demonstrates your desire to achieve, the ANAO may have a suitable position. For more information, visit https://www.anao.gov.au/careers
Australian Prudential Regulation Authority The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is the prudential regulator of the financial services industry. It oversees financial institutions such as banks, building societies, general insurance, private health insurance companies and members of the superannuation industry. APRA establishes and enforces prudential standards and practices to ensure financial promises are supported by an appropriate system. APRA is also the national statistical agency for the Australian financial sector.
Opportunities for graduates
The graduate program offers rigorous training and development in the financial industry, workplace diversity, a work-life balance and a varied range of recognition programs and benefits. APRA looks for graduates with a minimum credit average from law (and other commerce disciplines). Applications are usually made between February and April each year, with subsequent stages in April to June and offers made in July. For more information visit http://aviewfromthetop.com.au/ introducing-apra
Australian Securities & Investment Commission
What is the purpose of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission? The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) regulates Australian companies, financial services organisations, financial markets and professionals who deal or advise in investments, superannuation, insurance, deposit taking and credit. It plays a crucial role in supporting Australia’s economic wellbeing by promoting market fairness and transparency. As an independent Commonwealth Government body, ASIC can commence court proceedings against companies and individuals who break the law in certain areas.
ASIC’s key areas of focus involve:
• • • • • •
Maintaining and improving the performance of Australia’s financial system and the entities within it Promoting investor and consumer confidence in the financial system Administering law effectively while minimising procedural requirements Enforcing and giving effect to law Receiving, processing and storing information provided to it Making information about companies and other bodies available to the public
The role of lawyers at ASIC
ASIC employs lawyers across most of its departments. Lawyers at ASIC engage in many areas of law, including business, corporations, insurance, indemnity, litigation, superannuation, and administrative law. For example, ASIC has explored issues in the mortgage broking industry, home underinsurance, false and misleading advertising, competition in equity markets, and exchange market operators. There are also opportunities to be involved in enforcement law and law reform.
Who does ASIC work with?
ASIC works with numerous international organisations, foreign regulators, and law enforcement agencies. It is involved in important international regulatory forums, such as the International Organisation of Securities Commissions. ASIC makes and receives requests from international entities regarding investigations, compliance, surveillance, policy research, delegations, licensing, and due diligence.
Opportunities for graduates
The ASIC Graduate Program employs law graduates through a 16-month program. Applications for this program generally close in April of each year. Those involved in the program have found it to be an interesting, challenging and personally rewarding experience. Graduates are accepted from a range of backgrounds and disciplines. The program involves four 4-month rotations in different areas of ASIC. Graduates are provided opportunities to be involved in high profile cases. Much of the work is focused on consumer protection, which can offer those involved a sense of meaning and fulfilment. ASIC is valued by many graduates for its good work life balance, culture and values. Graduate programs are run through the Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Traralgon offices.
What does ASIC look for in graduates?
ASIC seeks a range of attributes in its graduates. An enquiring mind, a good ability to work in a team, and strong problem solving skills are desirable qualities. ASIC values candidates who enjoy taking on new challenges and experiences, and take a proactive approach towards developing their career and knowledge. ASIC supports diversity in its workforce by providing an inclusive atmosphere for Indigenous Australians and people with a disability. Only Australian citizens can participate in the graduate program.
Australian Taxation Office
What is the purpose of the Australian Taxation Office?
What is the purpose of the Commonwealth Ombudsman?
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is the Australian Government’s primary revenue collection agency. It is responsible for effectively managing and shaping Australia’s taxation and superannuation systems. Its roles include revenue collection, administering the goods and services tax, governing programs which offer transfers and benefits to the community, administering some of the superannuation system, and the Australian Business Register. The ATO seeks to promote taxpayer confidence amongst Australians by assisting people to understand their rights and obligations, improve compliance methods, make benefits more accessible and manage non-compliance.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) considers and investigates complaints made by people who have reason to believe that they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably by an Australian Government department or agency, as well as some private sector organisations. The Ombudsman tries to resolve complaints informally and quickly. It aims to resolve disputes through consultation and negotiation. It has the power to make recommendations to senior levels of government. The Ombudsman promotes accountability and integrity in the Australian Government, and makes systemic improvements to public administration.
The ATO law team reviews existing tax and superannuation laws and oversees processes involved in tax technical decisions. It shapes the development of new laws by collaborating with the Treasury.
Some of its responsibilities include:
Opportunities for graduates
The ATO offers an intensive graduate program for 12 months wherein graduates engage in two rotations to explore different areas of work in the ATO, including client-contact work. Flexible work arrangements are available. Upon completing the program, graduates are positioned in an on-going legal role with opportunities for advancement. Work at the ATO could include providing advice and guidance regarding taxation and superannuation laws, influencing the development of laws, working on litigation cases, and developing relationships with professional bodies and the community. Most graduates are offered permanent employment upon completion of the program. Additional programs are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
What does the ATO look for in graduates?
The ATO promotes diversity in its workforce. To be recruited by the ATO, you must be an Australian citizen of good character. You must pass an integrity check and medical check (if required). An integrity check involves the checking of police records, identity confirmation and completion of a declaration of secrecy form. Personal compliance with taxation and superannuation obligations are also required. A formal security clearance assessment may be undertaken if the role requires access to classified material.
• • • • •
correcting administrative deficiencies by independently reviewing complaints about government administrative action fostering government accountability, promoting lawfulness, fairness, transparency, and responsiveness assisting in the resolution of complaints about government action establishing accountability policies and principles reviewing statutory compliance
The Ombudsman works in broad areas of law, with a primary focus for lawyers on administrative law and alternative dispute resolution.
Opportunities for graduates
Graduate employment opportunities are advertised on the Ombudsman’s website and through the Australian Public Service Gazette, as well as other national employment advertising sources. For more information visit http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade What is the purpose of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade?
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
What opportunities are available to graduates at DFAT?
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet advises the Prime Minister on policies involved in all government activities. It also ensures that the decisions of Cabinet are implemented effectively. This involves the Department collaborating with many other government agencies to establish policies which support each other. Some of the areas of prime importance to the Department include social, economic, Indigenous affairs, and national security policies. Some of the Department’s key responsibilities include providing policy advice and administrative support to the Prime Minister and assistance to Cabinet, its committees and the Federal Executive Council.
The purpose of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is to make Australia more safe, stable and prosperous by promoting and protecting its interests internationally and supporting economic growth and global stability. DFAT advises the government and works with other agencies to achieve these purposes in a coordinated way. DFAT’s responsibilities include negotiation of international agreements, delivery of aid programs and provision of consular assistance. DFAT’s head office is in Canberra, with offices in each of Australia’s capital cities and over 95 overseas offices and consulates.
DFAT has a graduate recruitment program. Applications for the graduate program generally open and close in March. There are two graduate streams: Policy and Management. The Policy Stream is well suited to law graduates. It is ideal for those seeking a career as a generalist policy officer, working to advance Australia’s interests across a diverse range of areas. These include security, human rights, international trade and development, and aid development & management. The Management Stream trains graduates for a career in management of DFAT’s human and financial resources, assets and programs. The Program runs for two years in Canberra, offering a combination of work placement and training. The training provides graduates with knowledge of government policy priorities, the international environment, and the nature of the agency. There are opportunities to travel interstate during the program. Upon completion of the program, graduates can take on longer-term employment which can include postings overseas. Employees at DFAT possess a wide range of qualifications and diverse experiences. DFAT can offer employees flexible working arrangements. Work at DFAT can be exciting, providing unique insight into government activities and policies. There are many opportunities available for career development. Opportunities are provided during employment at DFAT to learn international languages.
What is the purpose of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet?
Opportunities for graduates
The Department runs a two-year Graduate Programme. Most roles are located in Canberra, but some opportunities are offered through the Regional Network. Graduates work on matters of importance to the government such as social and economic policies, Indigenous affairs, national security, counter-terrorism, Commonwealth-State relations, deregulation, women’s policy, cyber security, and international delegate events. Graduates undertake rotations across different department areas, which can involve work in different regions and states, in partner organisations, non-government organisations, and private sector.
What does the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet look for in graduates?
The Department employs people from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines. Desired graduate attributes include high motivation, interest in government, strong communication skills, a good ability to manage relationships, respect, strong analytical skills, demonstration of analytical thinking, a commitment to learning, agility, and resilience. Students who have completed at least a 3 year undergraduate bachelor degree and achieved at least a credit average are encouraged to apply. Applicants must pass a security clearance and must be an Australian citizen to be recruited.
What does DFAT look for in graduates?
DFAT values responsiveness to government and clients, knowledge of international affairs relevant to Australia’s national interests, the ability to demonstrate sensitivity in a range of cultural environments, vigilance in the handling of sensitive information, personal flexibility, versatility, and an ability to adapt. Exemplary ethical conduct, analytical skills, a high standard of professional skills and knowledge, strong leadership skills, proficient management abilities, and high standards of integrity are sought. A good ability to work in teams, and under pressure to meet tight deadlines is required. Proficiency in languages other than English is beneficial. A strong record of academic achievement, participation in extracurricular activities, good communication, demonstration of talent, and high motivation are desirable. Candidates should demonstrate a keen interest in international issues and understand how Australia can contribute internationally. Unique programs are available to Indigenous applicants, including the Indigenous Pathways Program. People with a disability are encouraged to apply for employment at DFAT, with accommodations made to facilitate their inclusion in the workplace. DFAT only employs Australian citizens. A security and medical clearance must be passed.
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is a department in the Australian government, holding the three primary functions of privacy, freedom of information, and government information policy. The responsibilities of the OAIC include conducting investigations, reviewing decisions made under the Act, handling complaints, monitoring agency administration, and providing advice to the public.
What We Believe
The vision at the OAIC is a community in which government information is managed as a national resource, and where individual privacy of information is protected and respected. We are a government organisation working for the Australian Information Commissioner.
We Select On Merit
An assessment is created based on the job advertised by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and focuses on the relationship between the applicant’s work-related skills and work-related qualities needed for the position. As a candidate applying for a position within a department in the Australian government, you must be an Australian citizen.
In an application to the OAIC, referee comments are taken very seriously so they should be updated and relevant to your recent work experience. Do’s • Organise the format of your application clearly • Update all information so that it is relevant Don’ts • Provide detailed information on work experience unrelated to the position being advertised • Submit a long application
Reserve Bank of Australia & The Treasury Reserve Bank of Australia
Appointed Best Employer of the Year Award in 2012, the Reserve Bank of Australia places its overall focus on being a positive drive in the lives of others. For clients, the RBA values the promotion of public interest and wellbeing of their citizens by treating them with respect and professionalism. For their employees, the RBA values work-life balance.
Although there are no degree restrictions, applicants must have completed a Bachelor’s Degree. Students from faculties such as Law, Economics, Business, Finance, Public Policy and Mathematics are highly regarded. Individuals who have undertaken a double degree, postgraduate, or honours, and have maintained a credit average would be considered highly in the application process. Applicants must have completed their degree within the last five years to be eligible to apply. 1.
The Internship program is targeted at final year students who possess in an interest in economics, and would benefit from first hand work experience and financial remuneration. This is an eight week summer program, offered with financial rebate and on-the-job training and experience. Applications are accepted from individuals in 3rd year university and above, majoring in economics, finance, mathematics, actuarial studies, statistics, science etc. During the internship placement, students would be given tasks such as analysing and compiling developments in financial markets, and participating in interactive information sessions on the role of the RBA. At the end of the internship, students may be offered a position in the Graduate Program to enhance and extend the experience of working for the central bank of Australia.
The two-year Graduate Program provides an opportunity for you to connect with the wider society and solve real world problems within areas of practice such as: • Accounting, audit and assurance; • Economics, finance, mathematics, actuarial studies, statistics, science, engineering and law; • Information technology.
Written Application: The application for the Treasury must be submitted through the online portal. This consists of a series of written questions and the submission of an applicant’s academic transcript, work experience and a minimum of two referees. A statement of up to 750 words of why you wish to work at the Treasury must be enclosed. Shortlisting: The Treasury will undertake shortlisting after reviewing all the applications. Interviews: Interviews will be conducted in various states of Australia, with telephone and Skype conferences arranged for individuals with special needs and requirements. Selection process: The Treasury will then assess each applicant’s performance based on the written application and interview process. Referee Checks: The Treasury will conduct a check by corresponding with the two referees listed in the written application stage. Offers: If applicants are successful in the above stages, they will be presented with a letter of offer inviting them to participate in the Graduate Program.
The Program offers you business skills training, specialized technical training, rotations around different areas of the company and exposure to special projects and research presentations.
The Treasury is another option to delve into the world of economics and work for the Australian government at the same time. The Treasury centres its focus on promoting fiscal sustainability, increasing productivity and workforce participation, and securing the benefits of globalization. The department is mainly responsible for analysing policy issues and responding to the changing tides of the economy. By connecting the people of Australia to those around the world through trade flows, the Treasury offers students the opportunity to develop both their skills professionally and personally.
The Treasury offers Graduate Programs based in Canberra, for a period of 18 months with a rotation of 3 six-month placements. The Treasury will supply on the job training in regards to policy analysis, how public policy influences the Treasurer’s decisions, preparing advice for the Treasurer, and how the budget runs its course each year. The rotations are adapted to suit each applicant’s preferences, suitability and performance. Junior graduates would be supported by a Senior colleague.
Applicants must be an Australian Permanent Resident and be willing to relocate to Canberra for the duration of the graduate program. A security clearance check must be undertaken by all applicants when admitted. 19
State Government NSW Crown Solicitor’s Office What does the Crown Solicitor’s Office do?
The Crown Solicitor’s Office (CSO) is headed by the Crown Solicitor, Lea Armstrong, and is a Public Service Executive agency related to the Department of Justice under the Government Sector Employment Act 2013. Supported by her staff, the Crown Solicitor is the largest provider of legal services to the NSW Government and its agencies. The Crown Solicitor is the sole provider of legal services in all matters which are regarded as being core to the functions of government. The CSO is also on legal panels to provide legal services to a wide spectrum of NSW government departments and agencies, and competes with the private legal profession to provide general legal services to NSW Government. The CSO manages thousands of legal matters each year, many of which are long-running, involving substantial litigation. There are approximately 350 legal and support staff employed by the CSO, which is currently divided into 10 Legal Practice Groups and a Corporate Service Division.
The CSO specialises in the following areas of law: • • • • • • • • • • • •
Government Law Commercial Law Constitutional Law Administrative Law Child Protection Property Law Community Law Native Title Law Criminal Law Employment Law Inquiries Torts Law
The CSO offers a two-year program for graduates consisting of four, six-monthly rotations across various law practice groups that will provide you the opportunity to develop your skills in advice writing, litigation and transactional work. You will be provided with targeted training activities and on-the-job training to ensure that by the end of the program you have the capability levels of a solicitor.
Salary ranges between $69,276 and $81,888 (package up to $90,764)
Graduate roles are advertised every 2 years online via iworkfor.nsw.gov.au. Applications open in July. Recruitment aims to be completed in October and the program commences in February.
What do our graduate solicitors say?
As a graduate at the CSO, I have conducted research on a diverse range of topics to assist senior solicitors with the preparation of advices. I have also assisted solicitors involved in the conduct of litigation in the Land and Environment Court by drafting affidavits and preparing annexures. I have also had the opportunity to attend court and strategy meetings with senior counsel. Anna Lark, CSO graduate solicitor As a graduate solicitor at the CSO, I have been given the opportunity to conduct and assist with a wide range of government litigation and provide advice on statutory interpretation issues and legal questions to NSW government agencies. Working in the public law sector is both intellectually challenging and rewarding on a day-to-day basis, and CSO graduates are offered unparalleled opportunities to develop skills. Uzma Sherieff, CSO graduate solicitor As a graduate solicitor at the CSO I enjoy guided autonomy to work on numerous matters allocated to me. For my matters I have prepared advices and attended mediations. I have greatly benefited from the mentoring program set up specifically for the graduate program and the training that the CSO has to offer. Tom Holcombe, CSO graduate solicitor Working at the CSO as a graduate solicitor has been a great way to jump start my legal career in a fun and supportive environment. As part of the graduate program, I have had the fantastic opportunity to learn and engage in diverse and unique areas of government law, some of which I had little to no knowledge about coming straight out of university. A typical day in the office might involve a range of tasks from advice writing to attending and preparing for court hearings in complex and interesting matters (which you may even come across in the media!). There are also plenty of training and development programs which have been helpful in building my legal and business skills going forward in my career. Haeran Chung, CSO graduate solicitor You can find more information about the Crown Solicitor’s Office by visiting www.cso.nsw.gov.au
NSW Department of Justice The NSW Department of Justice offers opportunities within the courts, juvenile detention, correctional and rehabilitation centres, community centres, victim support services, volunteering organisations, corporate legal services, and Office of the Sheriff.
Legal Profession Admission Board:
Whether you are a student, a graduate or a full fledged lawyer, the Legal Profession Admission Board is useful for finding employment opportunities advertised by various law firms.
For students, there are a range of law clerk positions, junior receptionist positions, paralegal, admin, personal assistant and office positions in general, being advertised on the website from time to time.
Law Reform Internship:
This internship is mainly offered to final year students with an interest in justice, who are interested in undertaking an internship in the summer. The type of work available would include undertaking research, contributing to consultation documents, and helping draft reports which would directly lead to the attempt at law reformation. You must include in your application your curriculum vitae, a statement outlining your suitability for the position, your academic record, and general availability. Currently, the Law Reform Committee is looking at issues of third party claims on insurance money and a review of the Guardianship Act 1987. Working as part of the law reform committee would bring employees a diverse range of topic areas to work with, thus helping to shape an individual’s professional career.
The Summer Clerkship is run for penultimate students, offering 1-2 positions per year. The summer clerkship is offered with the Justice Strategy and Policy Department, which deals with law reform, parliamentary policy and practice and formulating government policy, ranging from criminal to civil law. You may be expected to: • Prepare briefing notes for the Attorney General and other Justice ministers • Conduct analysis on proposed bills and policy reform • Write speeches, attend meetings, liaise with stakeholders, and work with other government departments in general
You are eligible if you: • Are over the age of 18 and an Australian citizen • Are nominated by a member of the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council • Are of good, moral character • Do not have a criminal record
Office of the Sheriff
The Office of the Sheriff is divided into two types of positions: sheriff’s officer and court officer. As a sheriff’s officer, you may experience day to day tasks such as handling communication with the jury, establishing witness statements, enforcing orders, writs and fines, and provide security for the Supreme, District and Local Courts. As a court officer, you may be involved in corresponding with the jury and witnesses, organising files, communicating the jurors’ questions to the judge, connecting and setting up technology, ensuring strict confidentiality when talking to jurors, while being open and approachable. As a position with a very diverse experience, a role such as the court officer would engage your people skills and assist in the development of high ethical standards. Overall, being in the Office of the Sheriff has an impact on giving employees a first hand experience of the court procedures and law enforcement, as well as provide excellent service to everyday citizens.
An applicant must: • • • •
Hold a full Australian Driver’s Licence Attend the information night Apply through submission of the package of information forms given on the information night and a resume Undergo a test which comprises of literacy, numeracy and language assessments
The probationary period for a position at the Office of the Sheriff is 12 months, and within this time, individuals would be given on the job training, classroom based learning and assessments in order to achieve the mandatory Nationally Accredited Certificate IV in Government (Court Compliance). If you are successful after the probation period, you may be relocated to various regional offices of the sheriff located in New South Wales.
You must include in your application: • Cover letter • Curriculum Vitae • Academic Record • Contact details of two referees
Future Career Opportunities
Justice of the Peace (JP): Individuals who want to challenge themselves may wish to look into becoming a JP, someone who serves the wider community with legal documents. In order to apply for the position, applicants would be required to submit an online application and questionnaire which asks you questions and assess your ability to become a JP. You would need to attach your nomination form, as well as certified copies of supporting documents, which would be listed on the nomination form. A Member of Parliament can nominate you and will sign your nomination form if they have agreed.
The NSW Law Reform Commission (NSWLRC) The NSW Law Reform Commission (NSWLRC) is an independent statutory body that provides law reform advice to the government on matters referred to them by the Attorney-General. The commission prepares reports that analyse key legal issues, by undertaking intensive research in academic literature, engaging with stakeholders and asking for public comment. When a report is finalised, it is tabled for parliament and made publicly available.
Opportunities for Graduates
The NSWLRC runs a Winter Internship Program. Applications for the 2017 program will open in March 2017. The internships are volunteer places for a full-time basis for at least four weeks. The internship allows students to work closely with the Commissioners and staff and contribute directly to law reform proposals, with their contribution credited in the published paper. The internships are targeted towards final year students, or those recently graduated, but students from any year are eligible to apply. For more information, visit http://www.lawreform.justice.nsw.gov.au/ Pages/lrc/lrc_internship/About-the-Internship-Program.aspx
Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
NSW Public Defenders Office
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) is New South Wales’ independent prosecutorial body. It is a government agency comprising solicitors and administrative officers from the Solicitors Office and Crown Prosecutors. Matters handled by the ODPP include trials, committal proceedings, appeals and summary hearings in various jurisdictions such as the Local Court, District Court, Supreme Court and the High Court.
NSW Public Defenders are salaried barristers appointed under the Public Defenders Act 1995 to provide representation to legally aided people charged with serious criminal offences. They are the only independent statutory office in Australia who provides this service and are highly regarded for their expertise in appearing in serious criminal cases. NSW Public Defenders only represent clients who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
The ODPP offers a Legal Development Program for graduates. The program offers paid practical legal experience in criminal prosecutions, flexible work practices and working alongside senior lawyers and Crown Prosecutors.
Unpaid Work Experience
The program is for a period of 12 months in Sydney and Sydney West locations on a full-time basis. To be eligible for the program, graduates need to have completed the College of Law coursework component, or be currently undertaking or have not yet started the work experience component of the Professional Program. Positions are advertised on an ad hoc basis and are advertised via www.jobs.nsw.gov.au. Applications are only accepted for advertised positions.
Public Defenders do provide unpaid work experience to selected student volunteers in certain circumstances. For example, they assist Universities with student placements for work experience as part of their course work.
Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions The Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) is an independent prosecution service established by Parliament to prosecute alleged offences against Commonwealth law. Crimes that the CDPP prosecute include fraud, serious drugs, commercial, counterterrorism, money laundering, human trafficking and slavery, people smuggling, child exploitation, environment, safety, cybercrime and other general prosecutions such as copyright and failing to vote. The CDPP is also responsible for the conduct of prosecutions against the laws of Commonwealth in all Australian jurisdictions and provide feedback on legislative proposals, and submissions to committees in relation to law reform. It is also involved in two main categories of international work, extradition and mutual assistance. As international systems, Australia cooperates with other governments in investigating and prosecuting criminal matters. The CDPP employs approximately 450 staff in offices located in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne. While no formal graduate program is in place, graduates are encouraged to apply to vacancies as they become advertised.
Public Defenders are generally not able to provide paid employment to law students or graduates, as they do not have any designated graduate or legal clerk positions.
The ability to take on other student volunteers is limited by the availability of office space and the needs of Public Defenders for this kind of assistance. Consideration will be given to exceptional students wishing to do the work experience component of their practical legal training with Public Defenders. All applications are made to the Chambers Manager and should include a brief letter with CV and recent academic transcript.
Paid Work Experience
This is limited to successful candidates for the Aboriginal Law Graduates Program. The aim of this program is to help Aboriginal law graduates meet the professional practical training requirements to enable them to practice as a solicitor or barrister, or gain employment in some other legal position. The availability of this program depends on annual funding from the Attorney General’s Department and the availability of suitable candidates. Candidates for the program are nominated either by their law lecturer via the Dean of Law at their University, or under the NSW Bar Association’s Equal Opportunity program in consultation with the Dean of Law at the relevant University.
Public Interest Law
Aboriginal Legal Service The Aurora Project The Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) is a community organisation giving free legal advice and representation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across NSW and the ACT.
What would work in this organisation typically involve?
The ALS is concerned with criminal law, children’s care and protection law, and family law. The organisation also assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children through the court process by providing legal advice, representation and referral to further support services. The ALS runs a 24-hour Custody Notification Service for Aboriginal people taken into police custody. The ALS assists people accessing Civil Law advice, those applying for Work and Development Orders and provide referrals and support for matters if they cannot assist.
Employment opportunities for law students and/or graduates
Students who are interested in the Student Volunteer Program are encouraged to apply online. If successful, students will gain valuable experience in legal matters relating to the Aboriginal community, the opportunity to work closely with ALS solicitors and staff. Students will also receive hands-on training in the following areas: • Drafting submissions • Drafting letters and court documents • Attending court with solicitors • Preparing briefs for Counsel • Instructing in trials • Administrative tasks • Paralegal tasks Job vacancies are offered on the ALS website http://www.alsnswact. org.au/
What is the Aurora Project?
The Aurora Project was established in 2006 to provide assistance for Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs), through recruitment of lawyers to work with the cases. Aurora provides internships, training, professional development and scholarships to support lawyers working in the native title sector. As well as legal internships, the project also provides anthropology and sociology students to the NTRBs.
An Aurora Project internship is available to both ATSI or nonIndigenous students and graduates, in full-time unpaid 4-6 week internships, at over 120 organisations across Australia. There are orgainsations within Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. They are Indigenous focused, working on issues of native title, land rights, advocacy, social welfare, human rights and environmental policy. Candidates should have a keen interest in Indigenous issues and social justice. The program is funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Interns should expect challenging and interesting tasks, as well as administrative requirements. In previous years, UTS has offered funding to interns in the Aurora project.
When to apply?
Internships run from June to August, November to December, or late January to March. Applications for the upcoming Jan-March round are open until 5pm 26 August 2016.
Community Legal Centres
A Community Legal Centre (CLC) is a not-for-profit, communitybased organisation providing free legal advice, information and casework to local communities. There are around 190 across Australia. Each CLC has a distinct focus, with some advocating for law reform or conducting test cases. Their work is targeted at vulnerable and disadvantaged people, and focus particularly on matters in the public interest. While some CLCs offer generalist services in a geographic location, others offer specialist services in areas of child support, credit, welfare rights, disability discrimination and immigration, among others. There are also some CLCs that target specific demographic groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, children, women, refugees, prisoners and the homeless. From 2014-15, CLCs helped over 216,000 people across Australia.
How do they run?
Some CLCs receive no funding at all, and are reliant on volunteers. Others receive funding from federal and state governments, and philanthropic organisations. They also work in partnership with legal aid, pro bono contributors and the private legal profession.
The NSW Bar Association
The NSW Bar Association is the association that allows practicing lawyers to become a qualified barrister. Barristers are the advocates who represent clients or work for the prosecution and appear before the court. They do not work for law firms, but rather often work independently, or group within chambers. To practise at the bar, a person must have admission as lawyer in an Australian jurisdiction, must pass the NSW Bar examination, complete the application for an Australian Practising Certificate, and complete the reading program. Once a lawyer is admitted to the Bar, the Association provides support, information and events for its members.
Opportunities for graduates
The Bar Association does not recommend graduates attempt the Bar exam immediately upon finishing their degree â€“ it is advisable to have several years experience in general practice as a solicitor prior. If you want to gain insight into the role of a barrister, you can contact individual barristers to see if they are seeking a research assistant, through the website http:// find-a-barrister.nswbar.asn.au/
Opportunities for law graduates:
CLCs are ideal for law graduates interested in social justice, active community engagement, and responding to the communityâ€™s needs. There is a database on the National Association of Community Legal Centres which lists available jobs nationwide: http://www.clc.net.au/ JobAds/. There are also plenty of volunteer opportunities, listed on a separate database: http://goo.gl/M5a21J There are also opportunities to do your Practical Legal Training (PLT) with a CLC, if you are committed to going to a rural or regional location, and can self fund. Information can be found at http://placements.naclc.org.au/index.php.
The NSW Office of Refugee Advice and Environment & Heritage Casework Service
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is a government agency concerned with protecting the environment, Aboriginal country, culture and heritage. They provide services and support to various park trusts, such as the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, the Taronga Conservation Society Australia, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Within the OEH is a legal services sector, which provides advice on legislation administered by OEH and the EPA relating to environmental conservation and protection. The Legal Services sector also represents the OEH and the EPA in any litigation they undertake.
Opportunities for graduates
While there is not a specific graduate program, job vacancies are listed on the Jobs NSW site. https://jobsnsw.taleo.net/careersection/ env_heritage/jobsearch.ftl?lang=en&organization=1010360143997
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is an independent, nonfor-profit law and policy organisation, which provides legal assistance to disadvantaged community members. Their projects include providing access to justice for disadvantaged societal groups, homeless legal assistance, freedom of information assistance, Indigenous justice, work with prisoners and detainees. Funding for the PIAC comes primarily from government funding and the NSW Public Purpose Fund. The organisation also receives income from training and consultancy fees and donations from firms such as Allens, King & Wood Mallesons, Minter Ellison, and Henry Davis York.
Opportunities for graduates
The PIAC have a staff of 25, with any vacancies listed on their website. Graduates are able to attend the public training workshops, with specific programs including advocacy skill training, or advanced negotiation skills. More information is available at http://www. piac.asn.au/training/public-training-workshops/public-trainingworkshops.
What is Refugee Advice and Casework Service?
Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) is one of Australiaâ€™s leading refugee legal centres. It provides free, specialist legal advice to asylum seekers and refugees looking to reunite with their family. There is a team of 14 lawyers experienced in human rights law, who come from a range of cultural backgrounds. RACS aim to ensure that people at risk of persecution gain access to fair representation before the law, and are granted fair protection by Australia.
Opportunities for law students and graduates:
RACS is currently recruiting for students looking to do their PLT. More information can be found on the RACS website. http://www.racs.org.au/contactracs/working-at-racs/ There are also plenty of opportunities for students to volunteer while still doing their degree. Volunteers provide research and legal preparation work, as well as assisting with office and administrative duties. Students are asked to commit at least one day per week for a 3-6 month period. Students who volunteer have the opportunity to participate in RACSâ€™ training courses in refugee law. RACS also hosts solicitors from private firms to do casework.
Salvos Legal Salvos Legal is a revolutionary not-for-profit law firm. All of the profits generated by the commercial/property teams are used to fund the work of their humanitarian team which is provided free of charge to the disadvantaged and marginalized in the community. Both firms are wholly owned by The Salvation Army.
What volunteer/employment opportunities are available?
Salvos Legal offer voluntary (unpaid) internships for graduates and admitted solicitors through their commercial and humanitarian teams. Internships are typically full-time and four months in duration. In addition they also welcome volunteer administrative assistants, paralegals, migration agents, interpreters and solicitors at both of their offices (Sydney and Goodna) and advice bureaus.
If you are interested in joining Salvos Legal in a voluntary capacity as a Solicitor, Migration Agent, Paralegal, Interpreter or Administrative Assistant, please complete the Volunteer Expression of Interest Form found on the website and email it, together with your CV and cover letter, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tipstaves and Associateships
Applying for a Tipstaff Position at the Supreme Court of NSW
The Supreme Court offers a number of tipstaff positions each year. Tipstaves are employed as part of the personal chambers staff of a particular judge. They provide legal research, in-court duties and other support for that judge. Tipstaff positions are generally not advertised and the selection of tipstaves is conducted directly by the judge(s). Generally, tipstaves are employed at the Supreme Court on a nonongoing, contract basis for up to 12 months, usually commencing at the beginning of the law term, but may also be engaged at other times throughout the year. Legal tipstaves provide a high level of legal research and administrative support to judges in the Equity and Common Law Division and to judges in the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court also employs eight legal researchers on an annual basis.
Legal tipstaves and researchers in the Supreme Court of NSW conduct often complex legal research on behalf of judges. This would generally involve a detailed analysis of case law and an examination of legal developments in areas where precedents may not be well defined. These skills may be used in drafting background papers and assisting judicial officers in their work.
The day to day functions of the modern Supreme Court of NSW are fast paced and demanding. Tipstaves will be expected to possess highly developed communication and interpersonal skills, proficiency in the use of IT and be able to professionally display tact, confidentiality and confidence in their interactions with court users, practitioners, the judiciary and other court staff.
Tel: (02) 9230 8100 E-Mail: email@example.com (Attn: Judicial Staff Coordinator) Applications will remain with the Supreme Court for a period of 12 months only.
Associate positions at the Supreme Court
The associate position provides broadly based executive support to enable the judge to meet obligations both within the court and to external stakeholders, including legal practitioners, litigants in person and members of the public. Associate positions are generally not advertised and the selection of an associate is conducted directly by the judge(s). Generally, associates are employed at the Supreme Court on a 12 month contract, renewable on an annual basis following approval from the judge. Opportunities for these positions can present at any time throughout the year. If you wish to apply for a position as an associate, please forward a covering letter (outlining your suitability for the role as a legal PA) accompanied by your Curriculum Vitae addressed to: Judicial Staff Coordinator Supreme Court of NSW Law Courts Building, Level 4 184 Phillip Street Sydney NSW 2000 GPO Box 3 Sydney 2001 Tel: (02) 9230 8100 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (Attn: Judicial Staff Coordinator) Applications will remain with the Supreme Court for a period of 12 months only.
Period of appointment
Tipstaves are generally appointed for a period of one year.
Submitting your application
The Chief Justice seeks applications for research positions in the Chief Justice’s chambers in October each year for the next following year. For example, in October 2015, applications are sought for the commencement of Law Term 2017. An advertisement will be placed on the Court’s website to advise law graduates that the Chief Justice is seeking applications for these positions. The Chief Justice also writes to the Deans of all Law Schools across Australia to request that students be informed that applications are being sought for the these positions. In relation to tipstaff positions for judges, applications should be made at the beginning of the year before the appointment is to take effect. Each judge’s chambers operates individually. Applicants are strongly recommended to contact the chambers of individual judges for specific information relating to applying for the tipstaff position with that judge. Law graduates applying for tipstaff or researcher positions are expected to have a strong academic record in their law studies. Highly developed legal research skills and involvement in extracurricular activities or voluntary work in legal areas are also highly desirable. If you wish to apply for a position as a tipstaff or researcher generally, rather than to any particular chambers, please forward a covering letter (outlining your interest in the role) accompanied by your Curriculum Vitae and academic results addressed to: Judicial Staff Coordinator Supreme Court of NSW Law Courts Building, Level 4 184 Phillip Street Sydney NSW 2000 GPO Box 3 Sydney 2001
Other Legal Practice Areas 28
Practising in Australia: What are the academic and practical legal training (PLT) requirements?
The first step in applying for admission is the completion of a course prescribed by the Legal Profession Admission Board. Upon completing your law degree, you must complete your practical legal training (PLT). The PLT can be undertaken through a variety of providers, such as UTS, ANU or the College of Law, and cannot be started until you are eligible to graduate. Once you have completed your PLT you will be eligible to apply directly for admission. To practise in New South Wales, a practising certificate must be held from the NSW Law Society. There is also a requirement to complete two years of supervised practise. You will be required to complete a number of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) hours each year. The hours may be attained through attending seminars, giving lectures, and publishing journal articles, just to name a few.
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The Best Just Got Better Introducing PLT Plus The College of Law is proud to present its new and improved Practical Legal Training Program – PLT Plus. PLT Plus was designed with you in mind. We now offer maximum convenience and flexibility – at no added cost or time invested. Your training will also be more practical and relevant than ever before. What’s more, PLT Plus now includes our new ‘Legal Business Skills Series’. Not offered by any other provider, this unique series of seminars will equip you with skills critical for a successful transition into the legal business world.
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Student Advocacy Written by Nick Commins Juris Doctor, final year
Every University across Australia, in accordance with the Student Amenities Fee legislation must offer an Advocacy Service for students. Our team employees 5 advocates including our team leader/manager. Other institutions have different sized teams depending on structure (even UTS!). Persons in this role are usually expected to have legal training, with a law degree as preferred. The reason for this is the work is often very similar to that of a lawyer. As readers may be aware, Universities are heavily intertwined with administrative law principles. Indeed there is a wealth of cases involving Universities and it’s worth noting that Universities aren’t just a place to continue one’s education, they are in fact, a creature of public law and so there is great practical application of what you learn in your degree. Different Universities have different approaches to their Advocacy Services and how they operate. Some are more the style of the arguer advocate, a person who raises issues on behalf of students in an effort to change the system. Others prefer advocacy within the established rule system and guiding students through this, and related matters such as appeals and complaints. The rest adopt a mixed approach. Students, again as readers may be well aware, will raise all sorts of issues. Perceived unfairness in marking, grading, extensions, disability, discrimination, harassment, discipline (for both academic and non-academic matters) and so on. In my particular role these issues are rarely unaccompanied by other matters and indeed this is where all of one’s legal training comes to bare. An Advocate needs to be able to understand and uncover the actual issues of a case, which can be made difficult by health factors or language barriers which can influence what is presented by the client. Now considering that Advocacy services must be free (per the SSAF) this is a stark contrast to say a commercial law environment where your clients are usually in a different position because they can afford legal services. The rewards of overcoming such problems and challenges are great. An Advocate can, through their guidance and empowerment, not only save a student’s degree or resolve a vexing issue, but also impart valuable experience to the client. For example, knowledge of how to act or actions to take in future to be better prepared. There are many positives of this work. Most clients will not have experienced a creature like a University before as they may have come directly from high school or the like, and as such there is a significant power imbalance. Being able to restore this balance on a daily basis is greatly rewarding. Of course the challenges in the work are equally true, limitations of time, constant demand and a client base with very high expectations does add considerable pressure. I would go so far as to compare the rigours and demands with that of a commercial firm. Having said this, in my particular workplace at Macquarie University, as we are combined with other support services such as counselling, there is a high level of support for staff in carrying out their often difficult duties.
Assistant to a Barrister Written by Romy Sirtes Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Business, third year
I am fortunate enough to work as a part time legal assistant to two Senior Barristers in Wentworth Chambers, and have been employed for the past 12 months. I generally work 1-2 days during the semester, but am given the opportunity to work more during the university break. Day to day, I am exposed to commercial litigation, corporate law, property and construction law, professional negligence and family law. My daily tasks are centered around assisting both of my employers with any tasks they may have. Therefore, my day is different every day, depending on the time of year, and what each of my employers has on at the time. I have a range of daily duties, usually involving general clerical tasks such as scheduling, financial management, invoicing and using SILQ software (management software). Further duties include compiling and maintaining briefs, conducting legal research, and drafting, amending and proofreading submissions, pleadings, chronologies, advice and correspondence, through the use of dictations. As my knowledge and experience grows, I am tasked with more difficult and rewarding opportunities, such as increased research tasks. The role requires me to multitask, express attention to detail, and communicate effectively, to my bosses, other lawyers, and the other assistants I job share with. An aspect of the job I initially had trouble with was exercising time management in balancing the workloads of separate practitioners, who each have time sensitive work that needs to be completed. However, this has taught me the invaluable skills of prioritising, the ability to make quick correct decisions, and has improved my communication skills, both to other people I may need assistance from, and to my employers. It has also taught me how to use my time effectively, an ability which I have carried into every aspect of my life, especially my studies. Prior to working in chambers, I had no practical legal experience, and had only completed one semester of my legal degree. While my studies assist my understanding in what my employers require from me on a daily basis, in my professional capacity I have been provided with an insight into multiple fields of practice, and have acquired knowledge that I would not foreseeably learn at university, such as how to converse with other lawyers and understanding how briefs work. This job has also increased my confidence, and taught me the importance of clarity and precision in this field. While there are limited graduate positions, the knowledge and experience I have gained is invaluable, and will form the basis of my practical knowledge for the rest of my legal career.
Life as a Criminal Lawyer Written by John Sutton Armstrong Legal
My name is John Sutton and I am one of two managing partners at Armstrong Legal. I am also head of the criminal law division, comprising 21 solicitors across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra. Armstrong Legal is the only firm covering the entire eastern seaboard of Australia. The criminal law team are in court every day of the week. The matters are diverse, ranging from licence appeals, drink driving type offences, drug driving offences or dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm or death, or dishonesty offences, such as theft and fraud. Regrettably, assaults are very prevalent, especially in the domestic situation. Serious offences also feature frequently, such as high quantity drug matters like commercial supply matters. We also deal with sexual assaults, including those that are historical in nature. We also handle serious assaults and murders. We also deal with commissions of inquiry like the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the NSW Crime Commission, as well as various Commonwealth bodies like the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). There are also allied matters that can be fought through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, such as appealing administrative decisions of ASIC, or in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal appealing decisions of the NSW Police Force Firearms Registry. The quantity and variety of work in the area of criminal law is almost as broad as your imagination. Having whet your appetite for the work, there is a reality: it takes time to get to the good stuff and that’s only fair. There are plenty of firms who will throw their graduates to the wolves and expect them to rise to the occasion. That’s not fair on either the client or the graduate. The client deserves to have a solicitor who can cope with the work they require assistance with. The solicitor needs to know they have the support of their employer, and that they have the capacity and ability to do the work required of them. Armstrong Legal will, where the matter is large enough, pair a graduate with a lawyer competent in the area. The graduate wins because they gain skills, while the client wins because they have a lawyer who knows what they are doing. And the firm wins because the work is done properly, fairly and without leading to complaint.
What are the negatives of working in criminal law?
Waking up at three in the morning before a hearing wondering whether the preparation you’ve done is enough, mulling over the facts and re thinking the strategy, and just worrying whether you have done everything you can for the client.
What are the positives of working in criminal law?
Making a difference. Keeping the other side honest. Being part of one of the best criminal justices systems that exist. Working in criminal law is being part of a great societal balancing act. There are matters I’d rather not deal with, there are clients I’d rather not act for, and there are certainly things I’d rather not see. But without criminal lawyers, the system of justice will be out of balance. There is nothing more important in law than making sure a person has a competent defence, even if it is only to protect the balance.
My journey from University Student to Criminal Defence Lawyer Written by Mikaela Eldridge UTS Alumni
Since year one of Law School, I knew I never wanted to go down the corporate route. Although not for everyone, my love of the law came in seeing the practical day to day application in the courtroom and seeing the benefit a law degree had on people and their liberties. Now I am a Criminal Defence Lawyer, almost every day I appear in court, from day one I had my own clients and am responsible for their lives.
Journey to becoming a Criminal Lawyer
Before getting to this point, I spent two years working in the industry. I started by volunteering at a large criminal law firm as a paralegal, then gained full time employment as a Research Assistant at Forbes Chambers for Grant Brady SC, squeezed in paralegal work for two small defence firms and took myself to Alice Springs to volunteer with the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission. From this work I quickly learnt that success in criminal practice was dependent on practical skills such as advocacy, communication, persuasion and critical analysis. I also learnt that having practical experience and networking was just as important as keeping a good grade point average. I am now working as a Criminal Defence Lawyer at Streeton Lawyers, a small boutique firm with an impressive reputation amongst the profession and the Bench for thorough preparation and persuasive advocacy. Every day I meet new people who need advice in all areas from appealing their licence suspension to helping defend them in their Supreme Court Trial or represent them in a Commission of Inquiry. It is an extremely fulfilling and rewarding job, which at times can be emotional, but on a whole is a job where you are always learning and always facing new challenges as no two clients are the same.
Experiences thus far
Six months into being a Lawyer I have already experienced a wide range of criminal practice. Some of my highlights include: • Appearing uninstructed in a successful Supreme Court Bail Application; • Appearing in successful District Court Appeals; • Instructing Senior Counsel in District Court Trials; • Solicitor responsible in a Supreme Court Murder Trial starting in February 2017; • Preparing to instruct in the Royal Commission starting 29 August 2016; and • Importantly, having sole responsibility in numerous Local Court matters dealing with anything from domestic violence to fraud.
Why work in Criminal law?
If you want a career that is different every day, where you spend considerable time in court and deal face to face with clients, then criminal law is a great choice. Every day you will be liaising with police, the DPP, clients, barristers and other solicitors. You will be analysing briefs of evidence to assess the strengths of prosecution cases and ensuring that your client faces the right charges. Overall, your role as a Criminal Lawyer is to ensure that the people you represent receive the just outcome for what has occurred, whether that is an appropriate sentence or a non-conviction.
My Hot Tips for a career in Criminal Law: 1.
Don’t be afraid to volunteer. The skills you learn and the people you network with are payment enough. Look at community legal centres, the ALS, Shopfront or even interstate. Don’t just look for a paralegal job. The best job I had before being admitted was as a Barrister’s Research Assistant. These roles come up all the time and are either advertised on university websites or if you contact the Chambers Clerk’s they will keep your resume. Network, Network, Network! It is the most important thing in criminal law as it is a small practice area where everyone knows everyone. A good starting point could be attending the Young Criminal Lawyers meetings. Do not underestimate the small firms. Without a doubt, the best work I have gotten has been from Streeton Lawyers. Small firms allow you to have more responsibility and give you more opportunities to have one on one mentoring and teaching. Jump into the workforce. Practical experience is just as important as your Grade Point Average. In Crime, it is more about what you can do than what you know, so go for the opportunities even if they are unpaid as they will give you experience and also give you networking opportunities. Go and see if you like it. The beauty of our justice system is that it is open to the public. Every day at the Downing Centre there are trials being run and sentences occurring. If you have a spare hour or two go sit in courtroom 4.5 and watch the courtroom advocacy.
Working for a Social Justice Firm Written by Anitha Reddy Juris Doctor, final year
In June 2015, I was fortunate enough to be offered a position as a paralegal at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers (MB) in their Financial Advice Disputes (FADs) Team. As part of a social justice law firm, I have been able to work on cases that have had a real impact on the lives of everyday individuals. At MB, commitment to social justice pervades all work, whilst values of tenacity and compassion are demonstrated in every fight for a fair and just outcome. The FADs team predominately handles disputes in the Australian financial advice industry. Following the global financial crisis (GFC), banking institutions in Australia became subject to intense scrutiny for the services they provided. This was most prevalent in the financial advice industry, where the GFC exacerbated the impact of business practices that incentivised profits over their duty to the customer. As a result, numerous customers who had received financial advice suffered significant declines to their personal investments. Accordingly, due to this crisis and the scrutiny that followed, various institutions, including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the National Australia Bank and Macquarie Bank, all implemented remediation. The FADs team handles disputes in bank schemes, the Financial Ombudsman Service and in general litigation. As part of the bank remediation schemes, the FADs team is tasked with providing independent legal advice as to the appropriateness of the financial advice received by the customers, in accordance with their financial goals and circumstances at that time. The FADs team also takes on responsible and unconscionable lending, breach of contract and misleading or deceptive conduct matters. In my experience, MB grants paralegals a high level of autonomy and responsibility over these matters, whilst also ensuring excellent training, supervision and support. Itâ€™s incredibly rewarding to be given the opportunity to assist in cases against powerful corporations and successfully fight for everyday individuals, some of whom are often vulnerable, elderly couples and disadvantaged members of society. Paralegals are generally known to solely collate briefs and sift through discovery documents. Whilst those tasks are required of me from time to time, my role at MB also involves client contact as well as drafting substantive legal arguments, conducting legal research and taking instructions from clients. As a paralegal, most of my work is limited to scheme matters and managing cases from enquiry stages to resolution. Whilst the principal of the department ultimately approves all work, my job involves thoroughly reviewing each matter and making a preliminary assessment on its merits. Knowing which documents are important and what questions to ask of clients is crucial to filtering relevant information applicable to a case. Working at a social justice law firm opens the door to a unique aspect of the law, one in which you rarely engage with at university or in the corporate world. It is the side of the law where everyday people entrust you with their sole chance at justice. Working at MB has appealed to my sense of fairness and humanity, and has inspired me to achieve results for the betterment of society that would otherwise seem distant at a major corporate. For those interested in applying, there are various opportunities available at MB in Sydney and nationally. A Clerkship program is run in the Victorian and Queensland offices whilst paralegal opportunities are available at all MB offices. As a clerk or paralegal, you gain firsthand experience of the firmâ€™s supportive culture and their dedication to social justice. As for graduates, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales each run a one year program for Graduates, with Sydney offering two six month rotations across different practice areas.
Welfare Rights Centre Written by Aisyah Farrar
LLB/International Studies (German), second year The Welfare Rights Centre is a community legal centre that specialises in Social Security Law. We provide free legal advice, and in some cases representation on social security and family assistance matters. Over the last year, I have had the privilege of volunteering on the advice shift at the Centre. I started off in the administration shifts. Having previously been exclusively employed in the retail industry, doing administrative work was a great change. I took incoming calls, organised the filing and provided data entry into CLSIS â€“ the Community Legal Centre network of data. Moving on to the advice shifts was a big change. I was exposed to an entirely different range of people with complex legal issues. Translating words from the paper in our textbooks into facing real life clients was a big challenge, but a rewarding and exciting one. Being on the advice shifts means being the first point of contact for clients. They request advice for smaller issues, such as what Centrelink payment they would be more suited for, to clients accruing large debts. I interview clients regarding their legal issues, and ascertain what areas will require further probing before passing the details of the interview to the caseworker, who then gives them a call back and provides them with advice over the phone. If we are having a slightly more quiet day (which is rare!) then the volunteers will delve into some paralegal work. Some days the centre can be inundated with phone calls, to the point of having to turn off the phones just so we can keep up with the process of taking down the initial problems to actually providing the client with advice, and at times, a holistic solution to their problems. I have learnt a lot from my time at the Welfare Rights Centre. Nearly a year on, and I have learnt how to professionally manage clients that are engaged in complex legal positions, whilst remaining patient in the adversity of less-than-patient clients. I have seen firsthand how hard each and every one of the solicitors, caseworkers and volunteers at the centre work. In light of the cuts to the welfare system as well as community legal centres, demand is now exceeding the services that we are able to provide. We have seen advice shifts being cut as a result of being understaffed. We have had to turn clients away as our legal focus has narrowed. More often than not, these clients are helpless and do not know where to turn to. Community Legal Centres, having used them myself in the past, have been a critical aspect in ensuring equitable access to justice in our legal system, which can often be cruel and traumatising for some. Volunteering has been an incredible experience, and I implore you all to actively look for centres that require your help â€“ because there is no doubt that they do. Volunteers play a key role in ensuring that centres, like the Welfare Rights Centre, can continue to run and provide services that are free and accessible to all. If you would like to read more about what the centre does, please visit www.welfarerights.org.au
Alternate Legal Careers 38
Life in Academia Written by Dr Thalia Anthony Associate Professor, UTS Faculty of Law
A legal degree commonly lends itself to jobs in firms or government agencies. Law students can often feel that internships and clerkships in firms or government are the only pathway open to them. These opportunities often require students to undertake work that does not accommodate independent thinking and action. This can be disheartening for students with aspirations relating to social justice or critical thinking. Academia is an option that is less-talked about among law students. This is an avenue in which you can do independent work that develops critical and analytical thinking. Often there is a perception that it involves lots of reading and writing and little connection with the real world. The concept of the ‘ivory tower’ is commonly associated with the world of academia: a world where academics are detached from society and yet think they are above it. Increasingly, however, academia is connected with the outside world. This can have pitfalls by compromising the independent integrity of academics, but if navigated carefully it can also open up opportunities for academics to conduct more meaningful and relevant work. Without sounding too idealistic (!), a job in academia also has the benefit of shaping a new generation of lawyers and thinkers through teaching. The opportunity to engage law students in new knowledge, ideas and skills can be breathtaking. It never ceases to amaze me how much my students teach me and how knowledge challenges and changes students. So how do you get there? There is no doubt that acquiring a permanent job in academia is a long and winding road. Many people, including many of the UTS:Law academic staff, will start jobs and families before they embark on this road. It’s important to remember that it’s never too late. Often the experience of other work and life will put you in good stead for an academic career later in life. For me, academia was an extension of my university studies. To say I loved university life and study would be an understatement. The capacity to critically analyse society as a student and the opportunities at university to be an activist for social change held enormous appeal.
In this day and age, a PhD is generally a requirement to acquire a job as a Law academic. At UTS, and elsewhere, there are often casual or part-time teaching opportunities while undertaking a PhD and becoming part of the law faculty’s community. This gives you a head start when beginning an academic job after your PhD. However, entry into a PhD program and scholarships to support you while you complete your PhD over three to four years, are competitive. You will need decent marks, an Honours or a Masters research degree and a strong proposal to have a competitive application. If the idea of a PhD is overwhelming, or the application process too demanding, you can start by applying for a Masters degree by research and upgrade later to a PhD. It’s also important to keep in mind that there are great opportunities to do a PhD in countries outside of Australia and you should talk to your lecturers and professional staff at UTS:Law about all these options if you are interested. The average work week for an academic varies greatly. There are three core elements to our job. First, developing and executing research projects and producing research outputs (including journal articles, book chapters, books and reports), either individually or with other colleagues. Second, teaching, which averages at around 8 hours face-to-face teaching per week, marking assignments and exams, and supervising Honours and PhD students. Third, contributing to the faculty and the broader community. This may entail helping with the running of law programs, sitting on faculty committees to determine the strategic direction of the faculty, working on social justice projects with students (eg through the Brennan program), mentoring students and engagement with media in relation to your research and expertise. A major benefit of academia is that there is a lot of flexibility and variety in the job. But this can also be a downfall because it can be hard to segregate work into a working day and it can pour into nights and weekends. Also, with changing government policy and university expectations, including in relation to budgets, money and corporatisation, the job of an academic can be highly administrative and, consequently, stressful. But I think these challenges are societywide, and against this trend, there is still a great deal of scope for academics to create collegial environments that are rewarding and make a positive contribution to social change.
Careers Beyond the Courtroom: Where Can Your Law Degree Take You? Written by Mia Casey UTS:Careers
While many students undertake a law degree without any intention of practicing law, the recent onslaught of news articles bemoaning the lack of jobs for law graduates can be more than a little offputting. Throughout this, it is important to remember that law degrees foster a variety of skills and experiences sought after in a number of fields. So if youâ€™re studying law and thinking of branching out beyond the traditional legal career pathways, read on!
Many organisations work globally, and being successful in a multicultural society like Australia will mean being able to share ideas, work practices and skills in a way that fosters open understanding and respect. These experiences can be referenced on your CV, and could prove particularly helpful when applying for organisations or industries that have a more international focus.
Time management skills
When studying law, youâ€™ll come to realise that one of the key elements many subjects assess you on is your ability to think critically and analyse information. Being able to receive data and strategically determine what is relevant to helping your company achieve its goals is a valuable ability. For example, if you work in business and another company approaches yours with a new venture, being able to analyse the offer to determine its benefits and downfalls is crucial. Critical thinking can also be highly beneficial in more creative fields, as it can encourage new ideas!
Many students manage to juggle part-time (or even full-time) work while studying. For those completing a law degree, this often means completing hundreds of pages of required reading for classes, whilst balancing work commitments (and a social life!). Achieving respectable grades and completing well-researched work, while juggling work commitments and extracurricular activities highlights your organisational and time management abilities. Many industries work to deadlines, so show employers that you can succeed under stress and still complete great work!
Interpersonal communication skills
Studying a law degree often means completing group work with a diverse group of people. As universities are becoming more globalised, many classes include students from a broad range of cultural backgrounds, each bringing a different knowledge base and understanding to the issue at hand. The ability to communicate effectively and respectfully with a variety of people, particularly in a group setting where you share a common goal, is a great skill to possess. Many organisations work globally, and being successful in a multicultural society like Australia will mean being able to share ideas, work practices and skills in a way that fosters open understanding and respect. These experiences can be referenced on your CV, and could prove particularly helpful when applying for organisations or industries that have a more international focus.
Interpersonal communication skills
Studying a law degree often means completing group work with a diverse group of people. As universities are becoming more globalised, many classes include students from a broad range of cultural backgrounds, each bringing a different knowledge base and understanding to the issue at hand. The ability to communicate effectively and respectfully with a variety of people, particularly in a group setting where you share a common goal, is a great skill to possess.
While problem solving is an outcome-focused skill, it requires many of the same elements critical thinking does: analysis, brainstorming and determining the logical steps to take to achieve the desired goal. Many of the assessments offered throughout law degrees involve hypothetical scenarios containing a number of legal issues, which you have to evaluate and provide advice or solutions to. A large number of industries (from marketing and business to IT and design) are looking for candidates with proven problem solving ability. While some may require extra qualifications, the ability to effectively provide solutions is a highly sought after skill.
Law assessments almost always require a high level of written communication skills. Spelling, punctuation and referencing are graded harshly, and any errors should be near non-existent after a year or two studying your degree. The ability to effectively communicate complex ideas and theories in a variety of formats (eg. Essays, letters of advice, problem solving activities and group assessments etc.) can be exceedingly beneficial in a number of contexts. Being able to write effectively is a requirement in a vast variety of fields â€“ from drafting a proposal or report, to emailing a colleague. Showing that you can (and have) produced high quality written work will provide a boost to your employability.
Entrepreneurial Ventures Entrepreneur | Marketer Author | Law Academic Written by Wenee Yap
Founder, Survive Law Co-Owner, Catmosphere Sydney Space Cat Café Co-Owner, The Remarkable Woman Co-Founder, The Ducky Mafia Law is essential to everything I did after my law degree. The work I do now didn’t exist while I was studying law – social media was in its early days, Sydney’s startup scene was still ping pong tables and ukuleles and digital marketing hadn’t really emerged yet. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I graduated right into the GFC. My friends were being paid not to take their hard-won graduate positions, and peers were returning to do their LLM straight after graduation.
The cons, to be honest, are many. It’s risky – 95% of startups fail. It’s lonely – unless you have a similarly crazy co-founder, you work alone a lot of the time. It’s poorly paid – until you achieve stability, which will take at least six months to a year, you’ll need to watch your peers enjoy graduate salaries and ridiculously expensive dinners while you continue to slum it on student living.
In all honesty, I was never all that interested in becoming a lawyer. It’s noble and challenging work filled with some of the brightest and best, which is exhilarating. However, I’m not sure if I would ever share the same kind of nerdy passion for the Tasmanian Dams case or the minutiae of taxation law as some of my highly talented peers.
I founded startups throughout law school, with varying success. Critical thinking, creativity and resilience – not to mention the will to grind through long days and longer nights on little pay for minimal recognition or reward – that’s what I learned in law school.
A day in the life:
Once you do achieve stability, life’s pretty good. My regular work day is maybe 4 – 5 hours, a mix of client work, meetings, and research. I don’t work Fridays unless absolutely necessary. I outearn what I did as a fulltime mid-level marketer. I work on projects of passion, pushing social ventures like Catmosphere and The Remarkable Woman. I consult clients I like. I learn to fight with machetes and nunchucks on Tuesday afternoons. I get free coffee from my space-cat café. You couldn’t ask for better work-life balance!
Graduate opportunities are limitless, because you’re quite literally making your own way, finding your own fortune and seizing your own opportunities. It is the absolute opposite of going through a graduate program – high levels of autonomy, no job security, but all the credit if you succeed.
Pros & Cons:
You have a shot at doing work you love, at changing an entire system or approach to a problem. For example, Survive Law was a response to the dying print industry and the fact – still then largely overlooked by major institutions and our competitors – that our generation would live their lives online, via social media. You can also get started on minimal budget; at the very heart of digital disruption is low cost, which is a world away from the $100-300k minimum you need for a bricks and mortar business.
The Learning Project: Written by Alice Zhang B Communications/B Law student, third year What are the program goals and objectives?
The Learning Project (TLP) aims to provide a safe and nurturing environment in which tutors are able to provide extra academic support to students in years 7-12 (High School grades). It is aimed at individuals who are disadvantaged and do not have easy access to paid tutoring services currently available. However, we employ a holistic model of disadvantage that encompasses essentially anyone that is seeking support and identifies themselves as having barriers to accessing said support. The program is designed to imitate the tutoring program at The Shack, which has been proven to be effective as they now tutor hundreds of students annually.
How do you see The Learning Project evolving throughout your degree?
I am also currently studying a Diploma of Youth Work through distance education. The dream would be to have The Learning Project become a registered NGO and supervise the program as a fully-fledged youth worker. Hopefully The Learning Project would be able to further its values and mission through other programs as well, such as advocacy work, holiday programs or even spreading to other areas of Sydney and NSW that may be lacking in educational support. I would love for The Learning Project to be able to partner with some of the many wonderful existing youth services to be able to support young people more holistically and give the best chance at life.
How to get involved with The Learning Project
We accept university students as tutors, and tutoring for The Learning Project is a fantastic way to gain Leadership Through Service hours for the UTS SOUL Award or the Brennan Justice and Leadership Program. Weâ€™re also currently seeking a long term volunteer that has experience with animation and filming/video editing to join our communications team. To get involved, message our Facebook page or email us at email@example.com You can find our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thelearningprojectsyd
Legal Publishing Written by Lauren Singh UTS Alumni
Having worked as a corporate lawyer in private practice across both mid-tier and boutique firms, I took my experience to legal publishing to write for a new offering by Thomson Reuters: Practical Law Australia. Working as a corporate lawyer for almost four years made me realise the value of a good, trustworthy, precedent and some guidance to get you through a transaction you’ve never come across. This is, in a nutshell, what Practical Law Australia, Thomson Reuters’ Australian offering of Practical Law, offers a lawyer. I started my legal career in 2012, well and truly post-GFC, so I had only heard stories of the “good old days” of having clients not blink twice at being charged an arm and a leg for legal advice. This was never my experience and is certainly no longer the case. Clients of law firms in 2016 want efficient, cost-effective legal services. Cue the importance of legal publishing and technology, which combine to make the legal sector more efficient. This is what Practical Law offers: up to date precedents and practical legal guidance to give lawyers the best start to a transaction. All material is maintained, which makes keeping current crucial. Practical Law began in the United Kingdom and is well renowned in that market. Australia is now building out its offering, with teams writing content on corporate law, employment law, dispute resolution and commercial law. As part of my work for the corporate law module, I write practice notes from the basics of how to incorporate a company to the more complex, such as related party transactions. I also draft precedent documents, from standard agreements to board minutes required for certain transactions. Writing for the corporate module lets me combine my years of practice with what I loved most about both studying and practising law - research, writing and getting into the details of corporate and company law.
Working at Thomson Reuters also provides a new perspective. After years of working in private practice surrounded predominantly by lawyers, I am now involved in a large publishing business with a variety of products and services. This means that I have excellent opportunities to understand and even be involved in other aspects of legal publishing. For example, I have been involved in giving a practitioner’s perspective to enhancements to Thomson Reuters’ FirstPoint product, a product I have been using since my days of legal research at UTS. Moving away from private practice to legal publishing has not meant that I have cut ties to the legal profession entirely. All of the writers at Thomson Reuters recognise the importance of staying involved in the profession and, crucially, staying current with trends in the legal market. I have had the opportunity to attend seminars and CLEs and attend industry networking events and I maintain my practising certificate. As legal technology comes more and more to the forefront there will be increased opportunities for lawyers of all levels to work on products such as Practical Law. It is an exciting opportunity to be involved in this brave new world of legal technology from a relatively early stage and working for a progressive, global organisation like Thomson Reuters means that the career prospects are unparalleled. To find out more about Practical Law, visit http://legal.thomsonreuters. com.au/products/practical-law/ or the Thomson Reuters legal site http://legal.thomsonreuters.com.au/
Future-proofing Your Legal Future Written by Stevie Ghiassi CEO | Co-founder , LEGALER INC.
In his magnum opus ‘Zero to One’, startup guru and billionaire Peter Thiel proffers a different kind of investment, “Every individual is unavoidably an investor, too. When you choose a career, you act on your belief that the kind of work you do will be valuable decades from now.” These days it’s getting difficult to imagine a career of choice still waiting for you from the time you set foot on campus at Orientation Day, to slipping on the gown at graduation, and with the impending ascension of AI, automation, blockchain et al, is developing a career being replaced with a more compelling need to develop skills? While ‘software is eating the world’, is there any reason why lawyers and the legal industry should remain immune? Well, not really. Which leaves all but two options on the table. One path requires breaking the ‘mechanical jurisprudence’ mindset that is, for better or worse, implicit with studying law, and shifting towards ‘learning to learn’ so that adaptation and exploitation of technology take the highest order of priority. Technology first. Advocacy second. Although having a law degree won’t necessarily make you a better computer programmer, having a computer science degree can significantly improve the prospects of law graduates far beyond the application of the law. Tomorrow’s ‘augmented lawyer’ will be delivering legal services off the back of technology to leverage AI and automation, reaching unprecedented levels of efficiency and insight, allowing them to focus on the intangibles like strategy, empathy, experience and the less familiar, customer service and plain old running a business. The end result is happier lawyers doing the ‘exciting’ work and happier clients, not to mention greater access to justice. With 15,000 students graduating every year into a market of 66,000 lawyers, it’s high time to consider the alternative options. Enter startups. The door to endless possibilities, a flagrant disregard for the status quo, and possibly, a chance to trade in the suit and tie for a logo emblazoned t-shirt and the latest pair of sneakers. A world where the commodities are ideas, problem solving and finding people that believe enough in those (contrarian/inane) ideas, otherwise know as leadership. Does shaping the future sound exciting? It sure as hell should.
As software and technology continue to overturn traditional industry models, new and exciting career opportunities appear everyday. With every hackathon or meetup, new ideas and solutions to problems are born. So just how big is the problem you’re solving? A United Nations report states that “over 4 billion people, the majority of the world’s population, do not have access to justice and are excluded from the rule of law”. Sound like Third World problems? In developed countries like Australia and the United States, 4 out of 5 people encountering a legal issue are unable to access legal help due to cost, accessibility and complexity. The system is broken and technology is here to save the day, unleashing an exciting latent market that is sitting on the sidelines. Whilst evolving law firms are starting to resemble startups with job descriptions like Chief Technical Officer, Data Scientist, Predictive Analyst and throwing around buzzwords like agile and user experience, ‘disrupting’ them is the job of legal technology startups. The inevitable and increasing convergence of the two worlds is seeing the traditional law firm roles of research and drafting disappear in place of more nascent ones like systems development, risk management, legal process analysis and project management. The DNA of these firms is also changing in light of new legislations opening the door to ‘alternative business structures’, bring non-lawyers into the fold, and ‘limited license legal technicians’, encroaching on traditional lawyer tasks. Have no doubt, the law firms of the future will be software companies, and their lawyers will be standing on the shoulders of tech giants. So in this state of rampant flux, which path is for you? Well that all depends on whether you simply want to be a part of the future or if you’re prepared to subscribe to Abraham Lincoln’s bearded wisdom and risk it all. “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”. Too right.