NSW government legal graduate program expands following success

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday August 11, 2021

NSW supreme court
The first cohort of lawyers who studied through the New South Wales government’s graduate program have recently been admitted as solicitors. (Image: Adobe/Rose)

The first cohort of lawyers who studied through the New South Wales government’s graduate program have recently been admitted as solicitors in the NSW Supreme Court, according to the state Public Service Commission.

The graduate program established a legal stream in 2020, following a request from the NSW public sector General Counsel’s group.

NSW Public Service Commission general counsel Sarah Sandstad said the program offered graduates an opportunity to develop their interest in government law, along with the ‘building blocks’ and networks needed to progress their careers.

“It is important that we attract, nurture and retain high calibre legal graduates to safeguard the future of NSW government lawyers and our future senior lawyers and leaders,” Sandstad said

“Experienced government lawyers know that government legal practice offers a great variety of high quality, interesting legal work, often in collaboration with other agencies, and an opportunity to make a real contribution to the public sector and public interest.”

The legal stream has been a highly competitive program, with just six places available despite 1000 applications, the commission noted. As a result of its success, the legal stream will accept 20 legal graduates next year.

The most recent graduates have undertaken their Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice over the course of the 18-month program, and have completed rotations in up to three different government sector agencies, working in litigation, providing advice, and developing policy.

Legal graduate Alexis McShane was admitted as a solicitor in July. She said the program has been ‘second to none’.

“The program stood out to me as an incredible opportunity to gain experience across policy, litigation and advice in several diverse areas of law. Being exposed to different types of legal practice would help me find my strengths in an incredibly diverse occupation. The ability to complete the Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice was another great opportunity,” McShane said.

“I have gained invaluable experience during my time as a Legal graduate with NSW government, and have been able to work with diligent, knowledgeable, and supportive colleagues.”

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