For more information on associateships, check out the Australian Law Students' Association's Judge's Associates Guide.
High Court of Australia
Each High Court Judge has two Associates; one is based full-time in Canberra, the other (the “travelling Associate”) is based in the Judge’s home city but travels to Canberra with the Judge when the Court is sitting. Generally an Associate will spend their first six months as the Canberra Associate, and their second six months as the travelling Associate. The work of an Associate involves a lot of legal research, writing memoranda, proofing, preparing for hearings and special leave applications, and tipstaff duties (i.e. assisting the Judge in court).
In order to be successful in your application to become an Associate of the High Court, it is expected that you have at least the following attributes:
- You have graduated with First Class Honours; and
- You have research experience (obtained at either university, a law firm, or other court)
NOTE: Over 200 applications are received for each vacancy…stand out!
To become an Associate for a specific Justice, you must write directly to the Justice. If you do not have a preference as to which Justice you would like to work for, you should write to Chief Executive and Principle Registrar. Once the Registrar receives your application, they will then raise your application in a meeting with all the Justices.
NOTE: Your current CV and academic transcript MUST accompany you application letter (what better way to show that you are the best person for the job!)
There are no closing dates for your applications, BUT Associates are normally appointed two or three years in advance. Therefore, make sure your application includes the years you would be available to undertake your associateship.
All applications must be sent to:
High Court of Australia
Canberra ACT 2600
Federal Courts and Supreme Courts
Apply at least a year, if not two, before you would like to start. You do not have to do the Associateship straight away after finishing university - you can do a year or two of work or some further study first if you like. Associates should have a law degree by the time they start their associateship. It is not necessary to be admitted as a solicitor. Some Judges prefer their Associates to have some legal experience, but most Judges will accept applications directly from university students.
Applicants should research their Judges carefully. They should speak to members of the legal profession, academics and former and current Chambers staff and familiarise themselves with any journal articles and looseleaf services that the Judge has written. It is also a good idea to become familiar with any recent decisions or decisions that may have been appealed. Review your cover letter very closely for any typographical errors. Judges and their Executive Assistants will read your cover letters carefully and they have eyes finely attuned to picking up errors.
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.
Relevant addresses can be found at the ‘contact the court’ webpage at http://www.fedcourt.gov.au/contact
4. Your application must include the following documents (in separate attachments):
a. Your personal information including a reply address for correspondence, contact number as well as your current employer and job classification.
b. The names and contact numbers of at least two referees, including your current boss.
c. Any education/qualifications/work experience or training you have undertaken that would be beneficial to the role you are applying for…remembering that it is irrelevant that you worked at a department store in High School.
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!
Justice and Prosecution
Australian Government Solicitor
AGS provides legal advice and representation services to government clients on some of the most significant legal issues facing Australia.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal
The ATT reviews a wide range of administrative decisions made by Australian Government ministers, departments and agencies. It falls within the portfolio of the Attorney-General. The Tribunal exercise spower in divisions including the General Administrative, Security Appeals, Taxation Appeals and Veterans’ Appeals Divisions.
Office of Parliamentary Counsel
The Office of Parliamentary Counsel is primarily responsible for drafting Bills for introduction into either House of the Parliament, and drafting amendments of Bills. They are also involved in preparing information relating to Commonwealth laws and publishing Commonwealth laws and related information.
Director of Public Prosecutions (Commonwealth)
The CDPP is an independent prosecuting service established by the Parliament of Australia to prosecute alleged offences against Commonwealth law. They prosecute a wide range of alleged criminal offences, such as offences relating to the importation of serious drugs, frauds on the Commonwealth, commercial prosecutions, people smuggling, people trafficking, terrorism and a range of regulatory offences. The CDPP is within the portfolio of the Commonwealth Attorney- General, but the Office operates independently of the Attorney-General and the political process. The CDPP is a national organisation with offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Townsville.