Public Interest Careers Guide - Australian Law Reform Commission

Field of Law

Law Reform

Stage of Career

Undergraduates; Practising Lawyers

Contact Details

Address: Level 40, MLC Tower, 19 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000
Mailing address: GPO Box 3708, Sydney NSW 2001
Phone: (02) 8238 6333
Visit the Australian Law Reform Commission website
Contact person: Sabina Wynn
To email use form at the Contact page on the Australian Law Reform Commission website 

Description of Organisation

The Australian Law Reform Commission is a federal agency operating under the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 (Cth), and the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997.

The ALRC conducts inquiries-also known as references-into areas of law at the request of the Attorney-General of Australia. Based on its research and consultations throughout an inquiry, the ALRC makes recommendations to government so that government can make informed decisions about law reform. 

ALRC recommendations do not automatically become law, however over 85 per cent of ALRC reports have been either substantially or partially implemented-making it one of the most effective and influential agents for legal reform in Australia.

The ALRC is part of the Attorney-General's portfolio, however it is independent of government and is able to undertake research, consultations and legal policy development, and to make recommendations to the Parliament, without fear or favour.

The ALRC's objective is to make recommendations for law reform that:

  • bring the law into line with current conditions and needs
  • remove defects in the law
  • simplify the law
  • adopt new or more effective methods for administering the law and dispensing justice, and
  • provide improved access to justice.

When conducting an inquiry, the ALRC also monitors overseas legal systems to ensure Australia compares favourably with international best practice.

The ALRC aims to ensure that the proposals and recommendations it makes do not trespass unduly on personal rights and liberties of citizens, or make those rights and liberties unduly dependent on administrative, rather than judicial, decisions and, as far as practicable, are consistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The ALRC must also have regard to any effect that its recommendations may have on the costs of access to, and dispensing of, justice.

Number of legal positions within organisation: 8 legal officers

Information for university students/graduates

Do you have a Graduate Program?

No

How many law graduates do you employ outside your graduate program, and what sort of roles do they fill?

From time to time, the ALRC may have temporary vacancies for short term (up to 12 months), non-ongoing positions in legal research for people who hold law degrees and have experience in policy development and/or law reform. All positions are based in Sydney.

If you would like to be considered for such vacancies, please provide your CV to our temporary employment register http://www.alrc.gov.au/content/non-ongoing-temporary-employment-register

Do you have a minimum Grade Point Average standard for an applicant's academic record?

No

If there are any fails on a candidate's academic record how will they affect the recruitment process?

They will not affect it.

What sorts of volunteer or internship opportunities are available?

The Australian Law Reform Commission provides opportunities for current law students to work alongside Commission members and legal staff as legal interns.

Interns work on a voluntary basis, and may work with the ALRC for a day a week for one semester, or for three weeks over the summer break (in January/February). ALRC internships are based in Sydney.

Internships provide an opportunity for students to increase their awareness of law reform issues while also allowing the ALRC to benefit from the student's research and writing skills. Interns' work is credited in ALRC publications. Interns are supervised by a staff member, and undertake research work determined by the needs of the ALRC.

The number of interns accepted at any one time will depend upon the current work program of the Commission.

As there is strong demand for internships, there is a formal selection process. The ALRC will only consider applications that address the selection criteria:

What are you looking for in an applicant?

  • strong research skills;
  • ability to analyse and communicate complex information;
  • excellent written communication skills, including the ability to write clear and concise documents, including research briefs and memos;
  • ability to work independently with professional guidance; and
  • work experience, or interest in, law reform and/or social policy development.

 Qualifications/skills required

The ALRC accepts students in their penultimate or final year of an undergraduate or graduate law degree, from any university including overseas institutions.

The ALRC will also consider applications from post-graduate students in law or any discipline related to a current inquiry (eg medicine if the ALRC is undertaking an inquiry in relation to health and the law, or criminology if the ALRC is working on an inquiry relating to sentencing).

What electives/areas of study are viewed favourably?

This depends on the areas under review at the time of application.

What prior work/volunteer work is viewed favourably?

Any work that demonstrates an interest in policy or law reform.

Application process

Applications for regular semester and summer internships will be considered as part of a selection process conducted soon after the cut-off date for each intake. The selection committee and interview panel will consist of the Executive Director and at least one legal staff member. The following criteria will be considered:

Course of study;

  • years of study completed;
  • subjects completed and grade achieved;
  • other academic qualifications; and
  • related work experience and interests.

 The ALRC may request that applicants attend an interview as part of the selection process either in person or via a telephone interview.

Dates for application

Cut-off dates for applications for internships will be approximately:

  • First semester - early February
  • Second Semester - late June
  • Summer - late October

Exact cut-off dates for each intake are advertised on the ALRC website.

Contact person for internships:  Email Trisha Manning at  trisha.mannaing@alrc.gov.au

Information for practising lawyers

What are you looking for in a permanent employee?

 At least one year, but preferably three years of working in a legal practice or legal policy development position. Excellent research and writing skills, good analysis and problem solving skills, experience working in a team as well as the ability to work to work independently. Knowledge of the processes of policy development and implementation in an area of government is desirable.

What prior work is viewed favourably?

 Work experience in the field under review, legal policy work, prior experience in law reform.

On average, how many positions become available per year?

The ALRC has a small  and stable workforce and very few positions come available. Our recruitment depends on the number of inquiries we receive from the Government and the unpredictable comings and goings of our current legal staff.

How many applications do you receive for these?

 On average the ALRC would receive around 90 applications for any position we advertise.

Where do you advertise your positions?

Advertisements calling for applications for vacant positions are posted on the ALRC"s website and in the APS Gazette.

Do you use a recruitment agency?

No

Advice for applicants

When applying to the ALRC, please read the selection criteria carefully and answer all the criteria individually, showing how your experience matches the criteria and particularly aligns to the sort of work that the ALRC does.

Additional comments

 The Australian Law Reform Commission welcomes applications from the diverse Australian community including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people with disability, people of all ages and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The  ALRC does not require lawyers to hold a current practicing certificate. Applicants must be Australian citizens.

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