Graduate Michael looking directly to camera

What did you study and where? 

I studied a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Psychological Science at the University of New South Wales.  

What attracted you to the Legal Stream within the NSW Government Graduate Program? 

I have always been interested in using my law degree to undertake meaningful and complex work which goes towards positively impacting the community. In my opinion, NSW Government is at the forefront of engaging with the most challenging developments in society. I have been lucky enough to support my team at the Department of Premier and Cabinet as they advised on and developed the Public Health Orders that have been essential to the everyday function of NSW during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

My reason for undertaking the Legal Stream within the NSW Government Graduate Program was the focused approach used by the program to develop a rounded skillset in advice, policy, and litigation. These skills are fostered over three rotations in different areas and/or agencies and has given me an incredibly wide variety of experiences and the chance to build relationships that span across the public sector. I am also being financially supported by NSW Government to complete my Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice to become a fully-fledged solicitor. I think the excellence of this program is most clearly evidenced by the NSW Government Graduate Program being named the 2021 top graduate employer by GradConnection and the Australian Financial Review.  

Can you tell us about each placement so far, and the work you have been involved in? 

My first placement was in the Office of General Counsel, Department of Premier and Cabinet. I worked in the Constitutional, Elections and Inquiry Law team where I was involved in briefing the Premier on legal issues, advising government agencies and entities on legal matters, and coordinating the return of Standing Orders to the NSW Parliament. 

My second rotation was in Employment Relations (also known as Industrial Relations NSW), Department of Premier and Cabinet. I worked in the Compliance team, assisting the State Compliance Unit investigate breaches and guide future regulatory work. A highlight of this rotation was a temporary secondment to the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales as Associate to the Chief Commissioner.  

My third and final rotation is in the Litigation team, Better Regulation Division at the Department of Customer Service. My current role involves assisting in the prosecution of offences relating to the Work Health and Safety Act. As part of this rotation, I have been attending court regularly to observe and assist in matters I have contributed towards, and to advise Counsel.  

What challenges were you faced with during the COVID pandemic? 

I have come to consider the COVID-19 pandemic as a pivotal moment in my professional development. I learnt that plans change at any moment, and it is up to us to make the best of any given situation. For instance, the sudden occurrence of virtual working meant that I was no longer able to indirectly learn things simply by overhearing conversations at the office.  

At any early stage of my career, I came to realise that changing plans and priorities are a common part of professional life and that I needed to adjust my attitude to meet this challenge. In my case, since my team were heavily focused on Public Health Orders, I asked for the opportunity to take on more of their ‘business as usual’ tasks to make sure that key duties were still progressing.  I believe that additional support allowed me to better understand the work my team does on a regular basis, but also served to deepen the trust my team have in me by demonstrating reliability and a proactive work ethic.  

Ultimately, I feel like the COVID pandemic reveals how essential government lawyers are during critical moments in our state’s history. I feel grateful to have been this close to what will be a significant moment in history, and to have witnessed the highest calibre of excellence from my managers and colleagues during this trying time.