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Career Development Program for Aboriginal Law Graduates

NSW Government Graduates logo with text 'Graduates - investing in a better future

Through the Graduate Career Development Program (Graduate program) successful applicants will be involved in challenging work that makes a difference. We support our new solicitors in developing fulfilling careers. The Graduate program is structured over two years, and is designed to develop the competencies required to achieve success in your legal career. The skills learnt will prepare you for future advancement within the legal profession and give you a good grounding in case management across two different fields of legal practice.

Under the Graduate program, Legal Aid NSW offers two Aboriginal Identified placements to newly admitted solicitors with sound academic grades in a LLB or equivalent.

What we offer

  • Hands on work with real cases and the opportunity to make a substantive contribution to client's legal matters
  • Working alongside talented, experienced senior solicitors, many with specialist expertise
  • A positive work life balance: flexible working conditions and flexitime system based on a standard 35 hour working week
  • Work diversity with a two-year rotational program that builds on your qualifications and practical experience
  • Great court experience with a wide range of matters
  • Career planning
  • Training, development, support and mentoring
  • A stimulating, friendly and supportive work environment
  • Salary sacrifice arrangements
  • Study time leave and assistance with course fees
  • Performance feedback
  • Generous leave entitlements
  • Competitive starting salary package
  • Subsidised professional membership fees and practising certificate fees

Successful graduates will participate in a thorough Legal Aid NSW orientation and induction with the support of supervisors and a ‘buddy’ so you can learn the skills needed to be an effective solicitor in two areas of practice from either family, criminal and/or civil law.  Practical one-on-one support with experienced solicitors in real situations means graduates will not be stuck at a desk doing menial work.

A strong peer group will always ensure graduates are part of a team and opportunities for self-development are ongoing. Career planning and sophisticated training programs are available to graduates at any point in their career (e.g. Intensive advocacy workshops run by members of the bar and the judiciary that teach you how to prepare for trial).

The Graduate Program is managed by the Human Resource Management Branch in collaboration with the practice field managers and senior solicitors. Program participants are involved in relevant professional development activities, including MCLE and conferences. The Training and Development team also run a number of courses and programs throughout the year and graduates will be encouraged to attend optional training in addition to compulsory technical skills and core skills training.

Practice rotations will occur across two areas of legal practice, and usually across two jurisdictions within each practice of 6 months duration. This may vary for Sydney metropolitan office placements. Graduates will be given the opportunity to elect which 2 areas of practice they wish to undertake, subject to availability.

With each rotation graduates will be allocated a peer support person who will assist them to settle into their new jurisdiction. The peer support person will provide graduates with general information about the workplace, assist them to familiarise with processes and procedures and may provide some on-the-job training. Additional peer support will also be available from existing CDP participants.

The Mentoring Program facilitates graduates development through objective career guidance. It is a process of guided learning in the workplace by which an experienced and highly knowledgeable mentor facilitates the learning of a mentee to achieve agreed outcomes. Mentors are typically senior solicitors within Legal Aid NSW, preferably from outside the graduates practice rotation areas. Mentoring meetings usually occur monthly or as agreed by the mentoring pair to discuss development progress and provide general guidance on work issues. Mentees also meet regularly with each other to review progress and network.


The placements are potentially state-wide. The location will depend on the successful applicants' desired locations and position vacancy.


Applicants must have completed their LLB (or equivalent) from an accredited body and be eligible to hold a current NSW Practising Certificate with less than 12 months post admission legal work experience.

On top of the basic eligibility, we are also looking for applicants who:

  • have a credit average academic record in their LLB (or equivalent)
  • are good communicators and highly motivated to work in a diverse and challenging work environment
  • are committed and sensitive to the needs of our disadvantaged client groups in a social justice environment
  • are interested in our legal practice areas
  • can demonstrate initiative, adaptability and problem solving skills
  • are committed to offering excellent customer service and working in a team in a high volume work environment
  • have the ability to get behind and drive their own self-development

Application process

Legal Aid NSW advertises for the Graduate Career Development Program via a number of different avenues including I work for NSW, Koori mail, Our Mob, University Indigenous Law Centre’s and/or Law faculties.

Applicants will need to meet the criteria set out in the job advertisement and address the selection criteria (as set out in the advertisement) in writing as part of their application. Applications must be submitted as outlined in the advertisement by the closing date.

Under the GSE Act 2013 the process for selection to a role will include three capability assessments, one of which is an interview. The Assessment panel will notify successful applicants of the capability assessments that will be used prior to interview.

Common forms of assessment include: Online assessments, work samples, behavioral interviews, multi-mini interviews, assessment centre process, group exercises, Job knowledge tests, role plays.

The recruitment process will take approximately 2 - 3 months after the close of applications.

All applications must be submitted online at: I work for NSW.

For more information regarding the Judge Bob Bellear Legal Career Pathways – Graduate program see the Aboriginal Identified Graduate program - 2023 FAQs or contact the Aboriginal Services Branch