Legal practice stream – Olivia
Graduate program participant
Legal practice stream
Office of General Counsel rotation
After a few short weeks in the Office of General Counsel (OGC), I can safely say that every day in the life of a grad is different. There are some things which remain constant – morning teas, ‘just-because’ cakes and coffee runs, to name a few – but otherwise, we have learnt to take each day as it comes.
Rather than formulate a timetable or an example task list, I am going to lay out the features of the program that make me so enthusiastic to come to work each day.
Since my first day, I have been exposed to an eye-opening variety of tasks and matters.
In my first week, I was sent to the High Court twice, and was lucky enough to see the Full Court consider one of the final section 44 citizenship cases, Re Kakoschke-Moore.
Since then, I have prepared content for discussion papers on the Commonwealth’s interests in upcoming cases on matters of the Constitution, researched colonial legislation dating back to the 15th century, prepared documents comparing the structure and composition of tribunals in Australia, and helped formulate arguments that will become part of notes in relation to the Attorney-General’s decision-making in certain matters under the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth).
There is also a variety of subject matter that OGC deals with. In a single day, I have been asked to consider the constitutional implications in criminal, consumer and migration matters. This has required flexibility, and has been a massive (and exciting) learning curve. The team has been so willing to help in pointing me to the best texts and advices, particularly where I hadn’t studied a particular subject at uni.
Perhaps the most exciting form of variety in the grad year comes in the rotation system. In a 12 month period, we complete rotations in each of the three practices – Office of General Counsel, AGS Dispute Resolution and AGS Commercial – as well as a client placement and a pro bono placement. For some of us (and me included) this is juggled with our GDLP. I am so looking forward to the remainder of my rotations, which will be a fantastic opportunity to consider where I would like to settle in the coming years.
Trust and responsibility
Amongst the informative and fascinating tasks, which frequently involve the lawyers placing a large amount of trust in the grads, the team has been so forthcoming with feedback on my work. As grads, we are also expected to formulate performance plans with our supervisors in each rotation, which sets expectations and allows us to reach, and take note of, significant milestones in our professional development.
We are given every opportunity to learn from the tasks we are given, and combined with the impressive breadth of training we are undertaking, I feel as though AGS is the workplace in which I can become a great lawyer.
There have been fantastic opportunities to work alongside the other graduates, which has built a strong sense of cohort solidarity. The OGC grads are responsible with formulating the Last week in Parliament publication, which is sent to clients and all AGS lawyers, and it has allowed us to introduce ourselves to a number of lawyers across the group – all with the Parliament House flag visible out the windows. When one of us is feeling swamped, the others are there to help out, and there are five of us going through the College of Law program, so I anticipate that they’ll become my study buddies, too.
Health and wellbeing (and cake)
Finally, I have learnt to take advantage of my standing desk, the health and wellbeing grant, and any opportunity for a walk – I wasn’t joking about the morning teas and cakes.
On my first day, I was recruited onto a Tuesday night netball team, and there is weekly yoga for the National Circuit precinct in a nearby park. I am also a proud member of the Pride Network, which gives LGBTIQ employees and allies an opportunity to celebrate diversity in the workplace (and Mardi Gras, among other things).
The nature and variety of the work, and the social and wellbeing opportunities, are making AGS a phenomenal place for me to start my legal career.