Legal practice stream - David
Graduate program participant
Name: David Ireland
Year completed the AGS Graduate Program: 2015
Where in Australia are you from? Melbourne
What are your qualifications and from what university? Bachelor of Biomedical Science/Law from Monash University
Why did you choose the AGS Graduate Program?
I was interested in public law and liked the idea of working on matters in the national interest, as opposed to working simply for a firm’s bottom line. The Graduate Program also offered the opportunity to experience legal work across a number of different areas of law, which I thought would be particularly valuable as a graduate with limited experience in legal practice.
What did you like best about the graduate program?
The rotations—it was great to be able to work in each of AGS’s practice groups, as well as for an external agency and a pro bono client.
What type of training and development opportunities were offered?
Core legal skills training on various legal topics, training on IT systems, seminars on various topics of interest (often with client representatives), time management training.
What do you think makes the AGS Graduate Program different?
It is different from private legal firms in that the work has a focus on government and the national interest, and with this comes certain obligations. There is also a real focus on the graduate year being about learning and growth, rather than strict billable targets.
It is different from various Government Departments’ graduate programs in that all graduates carry out legal work, as opposed to policy work, in the context of a law firm with set business targets.
What is it like working for AGS?
It is stimulating, yet challenging in several respects. AGS is full of highly intelligent people, so it is a great environment in which to learn and produce high quality work. There is also great opportunity to work on a range of interesting matters. With these benefits come some tougher aspects—managing workload (both content and amount of work), billable targets etc.
What were the highlights of your graduate career?
The highlights of my graduate year included working on constitutional litigation matters during my rotation in the Office of General Counsel, my outpost at Fair Work Building Construction, where I worked on a number of industrial relations matters, and making my first appearance in the Federal Circuit Court.
How was the transition to living and working in Canberra?
I worked most of the year in the AGS office in Melbourne, where I grew up. I came up to Canberra for a three month rotation at the end of 2015, and really enjoyed the experience.
What type of formal and information support and networks were available during your graduate year?
During each rotation we had an appointed supervisor and buddy, both lawyers within the practice group we were rotating through. The role of the supervisor and buddy was slightly dependent on the person in the role, but they generally provided guidance and a sounding board for any of our concerns. The Graduate Coordinator was the go-to person for general concerns with the graduate program.
Describe your career path since completing the graduate program.
I am now an admitted lawyer working on a number of legal matters. There is opportunity for progression within AGS as I gain experience and training.
What is an interesting piece of work that you have been involved in?
I was involved in the preparation of a handful of High Court and Supreme Court matters during my time in OGC. One of them, Babington, involved the validity of a number of NSW and Commonwealth laws in relation to fisheries. One issue in the case was whether NSW could enact laws over coastal waters. Some of my research on this issue included looking at historical documents to determine how the original borders of NSW were defined in 1787.