Public Interest Law Careers Guide - Environmental Justice Australia
Field of law
Stage of career
Address: Level 3 The 60L Green Building, 60 Leicester St, CARLTON VIC 3053
Phone: (03) 8341 3100
Visit the Environmental Justice Australia website
Contact person: Mandy Johnson (students) or Brendan Sydes (practising lawyers)
Description of Organisation
Environmental Justice Australia (formerly the Environment Defenders Office, Victoria) is a not-for- profit public interest legal practice. Funded by donations and independent of government and corporate funding, our legal team combines a passion for justice with technical expertise and a practical understanding of the legal system to protect the environment.
We act as advisers and legal representatives to the environment movement, pursuing court cases to protect our shared environment. We work with community-based environment groups, regional and state environmental organisations, and larger environmental NGOs. We provide strategic and legal support to their campaigns to address climate change, protect nature and defend the rights of communities to a healthy environment.
While we seek to give the community a powerful voice in court, we also recognise that court cases alone will not be enough. That’s why we campaign to improve our legal system. We defend existing, hard-won environmental protections from attack. We also pursue new and innovative solutions to fill the gaps and fix the failures in our legal system to clear a path for a more just and sustainable world.
EJA always welcomes prospective lawyers who would like to find out more about their our work and how they can contribute through our semester based volunteer program and summer and winter internships.
EJA values all volunteers and make sure that time with us is as challenging and stimulating as possible.
Applications are competitive as there is only a limited number of places. The best way to "get your foot in the door" is to be able to demonstrate an interest and commitment to using your legal skills in a positive way, whether to protect the environment or in pursuit of social justice.
Opportunities at the EJA fall under three main categories: volunteering positions, internship placements and professional career opportunities.
Number of positions within organisation
EJA’s permanent staff consists of six seven lawyers supported by two administrative staff. The lawyers work in litigation as well as law reform and policy work.
Information for university students
EJA runs two volunteer programs for law students:
1) Day Volunteer Program, March-November
2) Internship Program, November-February; June-July
EJA prefers later year law students for our interns and volunteers. Studying the subjects of administrative law and environmental law is useful, but not an essential requirement.
EJA offers 8-12 internship positions of two weeks or more during the winter or summer semester breaks.
How to apply for internships
Applicants interested in the internship positions must submit the prescribed application form accompanied by a current CV. Further details and the form are available on the EJA website, and in the EJA e-Bulletin (interested persons can subscribe to this e-Bulletin at the EJA website).
Dates for application
Dates for internship applications change each year, however they usually are in May and September. The EJA website will list the exact dates for each intake.
Applicants are short listed according to their written application and CV, and then interviewed. The EJA typically receives 4 to 5 times more applications than the places we have available.
A demonstrated interest in the environment.
EJA has 1 to 2 positions available per day for law student volunteers during semester. Dates for volunteering applications change each year; however they usually are in February and July. The EJA website will list the exact dates for each intake. Law student volunteers answer the phones, undertake legal research, assist on casework and projects and carry out administrative tasks.
Volunteers are selected on the basis of their submitted application form and CV.
Volunteering for the EJA offers people an opportunity to gain experience in public interest environment law, and to help the EJA. Volunteers make an invaluable contribution to our work and how much we can do for the community.
EJA relies on lawyers and other professionals working in related fields to assist in the areas of casework and advice, policy and law reform, and educational publishing. If you are interested in finding out more about the work of EJA and how you could contribute in a professional capacity, please make contact.
Information for practising lawyers
What are they looking for in a permanent employee?
EJA wants employees with a passion for using legal skills to protect the environment.
Employees of EJA are required to have a high level of legal skills, and be admitted to practice. A passion for using legal skills to protect the environment, and an ability to work as a part of a close-knit team of staff and volunteers is also required.
Where are permanent jobs advertised?
Available career positions are advertised at minimum on the EJA e-Bulletin. Anybody can subscribe to this e-Bulletin through the EJA website.
What electives are viewed favourably?
Administrative and/or environmental law experience will be viewed favourably. Environmental or science related subjects from another degree are also regarded highly.
What prior work/volunteer work is viewed favourably?
Any previous experience in a Community Legal Centre, or other environmental NGO, will be viewed favourably in terms of being demonstrable of your commitment to using the law to protect the environment.
Advice for applicants
Unfortunately EJA gets far more applications than we can accept, so if there are areas of your study and experience that you think makes you well suited to EJA, please highlight them. Make sure your CV demonstrates your environmental interest rather than relying on just saying you are interested in the environment.