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Legal practice stream - Alexander

A day in the life of a grad

Profile image of Alexander Williams
Alexander - Legal practice stream

Legal practice stream

AGS Dispute Resolution rotation

I have been a graduate with AGS for just under a month but already I have experienced some amazing days in my first rotation with the Canberra Dispute Resolution team. My first few weeks have been both intellectually stimulating and engaging from a professional development perspective.


I arrive a little earlier than required so I can grab a coffee from a lovely coffee shop next to our Canberra building.


Once I have grabbed my coffee, I head for my office and read my emails and plan for the day ahead. Today I have a couple of research tasks and a trip to the High Court to observe a special leave application brought by the Commonwealth and various states involving native title non-financial damages.


I begin my first research task which involves compiling a list of cases which have cited an authority of interest in our matter. This research is directly for Counsel who has requested that I find any case in Australia which has referenced the authority. He has also requested an explanation of why and for what reason the authority has been cited in each case.


I have a meeting with the National Manager of Dispute Resolution. In our meeting she touches base to see how I am settling in. She also discusses a number of things that I can do as a graduate at this stage to assist in the transition to working as a solicitor next year. This type of meeting is just one example of how generous those in senior positions are with their time.


For the next two hours I attend the High Court to observe the special leave application. Before our application is heard, I observe two other special leave applications. I am struck by how intimidating it is for Counsel appearing before the High Court, but also appreciate those advocates who are able to cut through the intricacies to persuasively present their point of view to the bench. The Commonwealth and the states are successful in acquiring special leave. The instructing solicitor tells us that he will be helping to prepare submissions on 20 appeal points!


I meet the other graduates for lunch in the breakout area. This is a daily routine for us and allows us to come together to discuss our days.


I begin the second research task which involves analysing the applicability of a section of legislation to the Commonwealth’s circumstances. This involves researching cases and commentary on the issue which is difficult as this section hasn’t been the subject of much case law.


My buddy for my first rotation gives me a call to see if I have time to catch up for a quick coffee. We meet in the breakout area and he checks to see how everything is going. He offers advice on how to handle certain processes involved in work, such as capturing my time for billing. He also offers to show me how to use a work program which will assist me in the coming weeks.


After the quick catch up with my buddy, I attend our second session of library training with the AGS library staff. This session is on accessing the explanatory memorandum of legislation and finding media articles on particular topics. These sessions have been useful as a refresher of the library training I undertook in my first semester of law school nearly six years ago.


Following library training, I meet with my supervisor to prepare the performance plan for my first rotation. In this meeting we discuss what I want to get out of this rotation. We agree that it would be beneficial to have exposure to other areas within the team so this is added to my performance plan.


I write a list of tasks to undertake next week and head off to catch my bus home. It is the weekend tomorrow and I plan to check out some of the historic landmarks around Canberra!