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Getting Your Career Started

This section highlights how vast and varied the legal industry actually is. Here we will provide you with an 'in-depth' look into the range of areas within the legal industry. Begin thinking about what areas of law interest you and which areas you would like to practice in early. Keep an open mind and try to gain as much experience as possible. 

Social Justice

When we talk about social justice, we are talking about moving towards a more fair and equitable society. There is a misconception that social justice positions are just back up positions. However, in order to achieve real change the very best lawyers are needed.

Community Legal Centres 

Community legal centres (CLCs) are not-for-profit community organisations that provide legal and related services to disadvantaged members of the public. There are around 200 CLCs across Australia.

Job vacancies are advertised on a needs basis.

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Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC)

The ALRC is a federal agency that reviews Australia’s laws.

ALRC offers internship opportunities for students. Job vacancies are also available on their website.

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Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS)

The ALS assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by providing legal advice and representation in court. ALS offers various volunteer opportunities

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Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)

PIAC is an independent, not-for-profit law and policy organisation committed to social justice. All vacant positions are advertised on their website.

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The Public Interest Law Clearing House (NSW) (PILCH)

PILCH is a not-for-profit organisation and community legal centre that operates within a human rights and social justice framework. PILCH sits in a unique position in the legal sector, bridging the gap between CLCs and the private profession.

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Volunteer Positions 

Volunteer positions are a great way to get involved in social outreach programs. The benefits of volunteering include a better understanding of social justice and an opportunity to learn the skills you will use throughout your legal career.

Arts Law Centre of Australia

The Arts Law Centre of Australia provides free or low cost legal services to arts organisations and Australian artists across all arts related legal issues. Arts Law of Australia also offers assistance to Indigenous Artists through ‘Artists in the Black’ program.

The Centre advertises positions both for Volunteer Lawyers and Daytime Volunteers.

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Aurora Project Internship

The Aurora project focuses on Indigenous issues and provides organisations with support to their indigenous staff.

The Aurora project offers the Aurora Native Title Internship Program

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Linkz Inc.

Linkz Incorporated is a not-for-profit organisation that provides youth development services to Indigenous children and young people in remote communities across Australia.

Linkz offers volunteer opportunities through the Odyssey Program which aims to deliver recreation and sport services to Indigenous communities. From time to time other opportunities become available.

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Australian Pro Bono Centre

The Australian Pro Bono Centre is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to strengthen and encourage pro bono services within the legal profession.

The Centre offers volunteer placements, and also features sjopps.net.au, a website that provides links and resources regarding social justice opportunities.

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The Refugee Advice & Casework Service (RACS)

RACS is a not-for-profit legal centre specialising in providing expert legal advice to asylum seekers.

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Teachabout Inc.

Teachabout is a youth-led not-for profit organisation that runs school holidays programs for Aboriginal children in remote communities.

Teachabout offers Volunteer opportunities as an Activity Leader, or positions at their Melbourne Office.

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UN Women (the Australian National Committee)

The Australian National Committee for UN Women represents women in Australia. The Committee’s main emphasis is on eliminating gender inequality. The Committee also focuses on increasing women’s political and economic participation as well as ending violence against women.

The Committee is based in Canberra and applicants have to register to volunteer at their National Office. The committee also recruits for volunteer and internship positions worldwide.

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UNICEF Australia

UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund, which helps build and ensures that the rights of children all over the world are realised.

In Australia, UNICEF offers unpaid internships for their Advocacy and Communications Teams quarterly.

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Voiceless

Voiceless a not-for-profit focused on raising awareness of animal suffering. More specifically they focus on animals suffering in factory farming and the kangaroo industry in Australia.

Voiceless offers volunteering opportunities and unpaid internships for students in their penultimate and final year.

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World Food Program

The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency combating world hunger.

The World Food Programme offers worldwide Volunteering positions. It also offers world-wide paid Internships (a stipend of US $700 a month). For other full-time positions please visit their website

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International Opportunities

There are vast opportunities for law students and graduates looking to work overseas.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a global movement that seeks to end human rights abuses.

Amnesty International offers staff, volunteer and internship programs in several countries around the world.

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Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

The AHRC is a non-governmental body, which seeks to promote greater awareness of human rights in the Asia region, and obtain relief for the victims of human rights violations.

AHRC offers internship and volunteering opportunities.

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Australian Delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

Each year, Australian citizens are able to undertake voluntary internships at the United Nations during the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council.

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Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch is a not-for-profit global human rights organisation dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.

HRW offers unpaid internships to both undergraduates and graduates in their offices around the globe.

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International Court of Arbitration

The International Court of Arbitration is the world’s leading body for the resolution of international disputes by arbitration.

The court offers unpaid internships stationed around the world.

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International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The ICJ function is to review and settle international legal disputes, and to give advisory opinions on judicial questions referred to it by authorised United Nations bodies.

The International Court of Justice offers both Employment and Internship opportunities.

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International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court is the first treaty based criminal court to help end impunity for the perpetrators of serious war crimes in the international community.

The International Criminal Court of Justice offers both Employment and Internship opportunities.

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International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

IFAD is a specialised branch of the United Nations, which aims to increase rural and disadvantaged peoples’ access to financial services, markets, technology, land and other natural resources.

IFAD offers job opportunities and Internship opportunities. Interns can be paid the equivalent of a lump sum of US $600 per month, less any payment received from a sponsor (if any).

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International Labour Organisation (ILO)

ILO is devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights.

ILO offers a vast range of employment and internship opportunities.

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International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention.

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United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)

The UNHCR is mandated to direct and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues around the world.

UNHCR offers both Employment and Internship opportunities

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World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

WIPO is dedicated to developing a fair global intellectual property system, which stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development, while protecting the public interest.

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World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The WTO is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.

WTO offers both Employment and Internship opportunities

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Public Law 

The experience of working in the public sector can be diverse and very rewarding. Government lawyers are often immersed in a culture that emphasises a social good to the work being done, in contrast to catering to commercial client’s needs.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

The ATT conducts independent merits review of administrative decisions made under Commonwealth laws.

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Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

ACCC is an independent Commonwealth statutory authority whose role is to enforce the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and a range of additional legislation, promoting competition, fair trading and regulating national infrastructure for the benefit of all Australians.

ACCC offers graduate opportunities. ACCC also offers employment opportunities around Australia.

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Australian Government Solicitor (AGS)

AGS is a group within the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department, providing legal services to government

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Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

The AHRC is a national human rights institution leading the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia.

AHRC offers positions on its website. From time to time they offer internships to students.

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Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)

APRA is the regulator of the financial services industry.

The APRA offers graduates diverse opportunities and experience across the entire financial services industry.

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Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)

ASIC is Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services regulator. They ensure that Australia’s financial markets are fair and transparent.

ASIC offers a graduate program for final year students. ASIC also offers employment opportunities around Australia.

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Department of Attorney-General and Justice

The Attorney-General’s Department is charged with upholding the rule of law and providing support to the Australian Government. The Department deals with a number of areas, including: families and marriage; rights and protections; legal systems; crime and corruption; national security; emergency management; and international relations.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

DFAT is charged with working to strengthen Australia’s security, enhance Australia’s prosperity, and helping Australian travellers and Australian overseas.

DFAT offers general and graduate employment opportunities.

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Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)

DIBP is charged with managing migration, protecting refugees and contributing to humanitarian policy internationally while contributing to Australia’s security through border management and traveller facilitation.

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Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC)

The principal role of the Department is to provide high-quality policy advice to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

DPMC offers a graduate program for final year students. DPMC also offers employment opportunities around Australia.

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Director of Public Prosecutions (Commonwealth) (CDPP)

The CDPP is an independent prosecution services established by Parliament to prosecute offences against the Commonwealth. The CDPP is a national organisation but has offices in most major offices within Australia.

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Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman is an independent statutory office that aims to promote harmonious, productive and cooperative workplace relations and to ensure compliance with Australian workplace law.

The Ombudsman offers a graduate program for final year students. The Ombudsman also offers employment opportunities.

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NSW Law Reform Commission (LRC)

The NSW LRC reviews the law in NSW and makes recommendations for change to the Attorney General.

The LRC has a summer and a winter unpaid internship program.

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Office of Parliamentary Counsel

The Office of Parliamentary Counsel is responsible for drafting Bills to be introduced to Parliament.

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Productivity Commission

The Productivity Commission is the Australian Government’s independent research and advisory body. The Commission falls within the Treasury portfolio, and its role is to help governments make strong policies in the long- term interest of the Australian community.

The Commission has several programs through which it recruits employees including vacancies, graduate programs and temporary employment register.

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Public Defenders Office (PDO)

Public Defenders are salaried barristers independent of the government who appear in serious criminal matters for clients who have been granted legal aid.

PDO provides unpaid work experience opportunities to law students and graduates. It also offers a paid work experience program to Aboriginal Law Graduates.

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Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is Australia's central bank. Its duty is to contribute to the stability of the currency, full employment, and the economic prosperity and welfare of the Australian people.

The Reserve Bank offers various positions including traineeships, vacation work programs and roles for graduates.

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Associateships 

An Associate (or Tipstaff, in NSW) acts as some combination of personal assistant, research assistant and/or Court assistant to a specific Judge.

Highly regarded by future employers, Judges’ Associates go on to do many different things after completing their term with their Judge, and often find that the skills, knowledge, networking and confidence gained from working as an Associate assisted their transition into private practice, upon being called to the bar, or pursuing an academic career.

For more information on associateships, read the Australian Law Students' Association's Judge's Associates Guide.

High Court of Australia

Each High Court Judges usually employ two Associates. One will be based in Canberra and the other usually travels with the judge from their home city to Canberra when Court is sitting. Usually a hired associate will spend their first 6 months as the Canberra Associate, and the second six months as the travelling Associate. Associates usually engage in assisting the judge in court, writing memoranda’s, proof reading and legal research.

To be successful in applying for a position as a High Court judges Associated you usually need to have graduated with First Class Honours and have research experience, obtained either at university, other court or law firm.

Application Procedures:

The only way to apply for an Associateship is to write to the specific justice directly. If you do not have a particular justice in mind, you can apply to the Chief Executive and Principal Registrar. You must include your CV and academic transcripts with your application.

Applications for positions are ongoing. However associates are usually appointed two to three years in advance.

The address for correspondence is:
High Court of Australia
Parkes Place
Canberra ACT 2600

Federal, Supreme and District Courts

These Courts offer a number of Associate positions each year. Associates are employed as part of the personal chambers staff of a particular Judge. They provide legal research, in-court duties and other ad hoc support for that Judge.
Associate positions are generally not advertised and the selection of Associates is conducted directly by the Judge(s).

Process outline to contact chambers:

Contact each chambers directly and ask the current judges Associate whether/ when the Judge would be accepting applications and what criteria you should address. However the process is usually as follows in the outlined document attached

 

  1. Decide which Court you would like to apply for.
  2. Prepare your CV with an academic transcript and a covering letter. Your letter must address the period in which you are seeking to be employed by the Court
  3. Forward your application directly to the Judge or District Registrar in the appropriate registry.
  4. Your application must include the following documents (in separate attachments):
    1. Your personal information including a reply address for correspondence, contact number as well as your current employer and job classification.
    2. The names and contact numbers of at least two referees, including your current boss.
    3. Any education/qualifications/work experience or training you have undertaken that would be beneficial to the role you are applying for.
  5. Your application must also include a statement against every criteria provide for the position you are applying for. The criteria must be used as a heading, with a description of how your qualifications and work experience has enabled you to satisfy each criteria.

 

NOTE: Associateships are usually filled up to 18 months in advance, so be ready to complete your associateship well after you have submitted your application!

Law Firms

Gaining hands on experience at a commercial law firm will offer you a chance to develop your legal skills and knowledge whilst also being exposed to a vast variety of practice groups. Many firms have comprehensive training and career development programs, including clerkship mentoring, international rotations and assistance with further study. Each firm offers a unique opportunity to commence your legal career.

Macquarie University Law Society Clerkship Guide (2016)

Non-Legal Opportunities

Are you looking to explore alternate career opportunities beyond a traditional career pathway in law? Are you seeking to align your academic talents with your interests in financial markets or corporate management? Many of Australia's leading organisations recognise the valuable skills acquired throughout a law degree, including the capability to solve complex problems, excellent communication skills and critical thinking.

Australian Management Consulting Firms

A.T. Kearney

Accenture

Bain & Company

Boston Consulting Group

Deloitte

Ernst & Young

KPMG

L.E.K Consulting

McKinsey & Company

PricewaterhouseCoopers

Strategy&

Legal Research and Development

Legal Researchers undertake in-depth research into any aspect of law to support an individual or a company.

Barristers Chambers

Barristers often have short-term research assistant position available for law students. These positions are sometimes advertised via job boards at university. Often this type of work is arranged informally. A good way to gain work experience with a barrister is to first contact them and have an informal chat about a recent case they have worked on. Many barristers are happy to talk to students and once you are better acquainted you can ask them to keep you in mind for any research work they have.

LexisNexis

LexisNexis unites web technologies and premium information outlets to give users access to billions of searchable documents and records from more than 45,000 sources.

Employment opportunities are regularly advertised via the job search function on the LexisNexis website.

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Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters Legal Australia is the leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals in the legal industry. They deliver legal research and practice management solutions and products for lawyers, barristers, government, courts, corporates, academics and students.

Employment opportunities are regularly advertised via the job search function on the Thomson Reuters website.

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Austlii

The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) provides free internet access to Australasian legal materials

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Post Graduate Study

The following section is an overview of for potential avenues to continuing studying after your law degree.

New South Wales

The Australian Universities website provides a comprehensive list of what postgraduate courses are available to you in NSW.

Law courses in Sydney

International

ALSA Global Scholarship Guide (2014)


Oxford University:

  • Bachelor of Civil Law (“BCL”)
  • Master in Law and Finance (“MLF”)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Law and Practice
  • Masters in International Human Rights Law (“MIHRL”)

Cambridge University:

  • Master of Laws (“LLM”)
  • Masters in Corporate Law (“MCL”)

Yale University:

  • Master of Laws (“LLM”)
  • The Doctor of the Science of Law (“JSD”)

Harvard University:

  • Master of Laws (“LLM”)
  • Doctor of Juridical Science (“SJD”)

 

For more information and course entry requirements visit University webpages.

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