Public Interest Law Careers Guide - Department of Justice

Field of Law

Victorian Government

Stage of Career

Secondary Schools; GraduatesVolunteering

Contact Details

Address: GPO Box 4356, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: 03 8684 8342
Visit the Department of Justice website
Contact person: Richard Jones

Contact person for Indigenous applicants:

Traci McCormick
Koori Recruitment and Career Development Strategy
Koori Justice Unit
Phone: (03) 8684 1753

Description of Organisation

The Department of Justice includes police; courts; corrections; emergency services; regulation of gaming, racing, liquor licensing and trade measurement; and victims' services. The department also drafts legislation and administers various tribunals and programs to protect citizens' rights.

Does your organisation have a human rights officer?

The department has a Human Rights Unit whose responsibility is to coordinate the implementation of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.

Information for secondary schools

Do you have work experience placements for secondary school students?

The Department looks at these on a case-by-case basis and do our best to facilitate work experience placements. 

Most of our units are very eager to support students by providing work experience placements; however, it is advisable to make contact with the Department a few months in advance.

Contact person for work experience placements: Richard Jones

Do you host school trips or send speakers to schools?

There are opportunities to visit and experience the courts, as well as other tours conducted across the wider Victorian government.

Contact person for school trip and/or speakers:

For courts visit the Teachers and Students page on the County Court website or the Education page on the Magistrates Court website.

Information for university students/graduates

What are you looking for in a graduate?

The Department of Justice is looking for a number of attributes in a graduate in addition to their tertiary record.  Work experience, skills, what the person does outside of work and their values and community interests are all relevant.  The Department will seek to explore their reasons as to why they want to work for the Victorian Public Service, and especially the Department of Justice.

With most graduates beginning their working career with the VPS and the department, the Department are looking for people that are happy to be nurtured and moulded into having an exciting, successful and lengthy career in the VPS.

Qualifications/skills required

A minimum bachelor degree is required. The legal stream also requires a law degree

What electives/areas of study are viewed favourably?

This all comes down to the role and where that role is within the department.  There is not one particular area / elective that is focused on, it's the whole package.

What prior work/volunteer work is viewed favourably?

As Above.

Do you have a graduate clerkship program?

All graduates are recruited through the VPS GRADS

How many graduates do you take a year?

The department will recruit approximately 20 - 25 graduates per year

How does one apply

Through the Victorian Public Service Graduate Recruitment and Development Scheme (GRADS), which is a government wide graduate scheme - The department participates in the GRADS each year. For more information visit the Graduates page of the Victorian Government website

Dates for application

For the 2015 intake, applications should open around the beginning of March 2014 and are open for approximately 1 month.

Do you require your applicants to be recent law graduates? If so, how recent?

To apply for the legal stream applicants must be either completing their law degree, or have completed it, prior to commencing with the department.

Interview process

Applicants short-listed through the GRADS will be invited to attend a half day assessment centre which is conducted by HOBAN recruitment.  This includes an 1-on-1 interview.

Applicants short-listed from the assessment centre may be invited to attend an interview with specific departments for specific roles.  At Justice we have a 45 - 60 minute behavioural based, 3 person panel interview.  It sounds daunting and we understand this and try to make it as painless as possible.  We're all very friendly at Justice.

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

Throughout the recruitment process the Department will look at the entire background of the applicant, their tertiary record as well as all the skills, experience and attributes they would bring to the department.

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

The Department will look at the whole record as well as the performance of the candidate throughout the recruitment process.  Our recruitment process is based on a merit based process.

What sort of volunteer opportunities are available?

There are a number of ways in which you can volunteer your services

Court network: Trained volunteers provide emotional support and information about the court process to people going to court. This service is available onsite in the Supreme, County, Coroner's, Family, Children's and Melbourne and regional Magistrates' Courts.

Independent Prisoner Visitor Scheme: Volunteers provide the Minister for Corrections with independent advice on prison operations from the perspective of an independent, community observer. The position requires the observation of prison routines, positive initiatives or concerns raised by prisoners, staff and visitors, in particular issues relating to prison management and operation.

Justices of the Peace or bail justices: Justices of the Peace provide document witnessing and certification services to the community both during and outside business hours.

Bail justices primarily work outside business hours and on weekends to conduct hearings in relation to applications for bail or remand, and applications for interim accommodation orders relating to children.

Office of the Public Advocate: Office of the Public Advocate aims to promote and protect the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.

Community Visitors Program: volunteers visit Victorian accommodation facilities for people with a disability or mental illness to monitor and report on the adequacy of services provided.

Volunteers in the Independent Third Person Program assist people with a cognitive disability or mental illness during Police interviews.

Community Guardian Program: volunteers act as independent guardians for Victorians with a disability who cannot make decisions for themselves. They help people make personal and lifestyle decisions in their best interests

For information on these opportunities please visit the Volunteering page of the Department of Justice website

Information for practicing lawyers

What are you looking for in a permanent employee?

There are many things we look for when recruiting for the department, and a lot of that will be dictated by the role and area we're recruiting for.

However, in general we look for people who can display a high level of integrity and loyalty, along with an alignment to the department's values and behaviours.  Ideally they would be able to show us their passion for what Justice does, our many facets and also a drive to work within the Victorian Public Sector.

What prior work is viewed favourably?

  • Prior government experience and an understanding of the procedures and processes in a large public service entity is always advantageous.  However, we understand that not everyone possesses this background.
  • Experience in a relevant work environment, in terms of knowledge, role and size, or an understanding of what will be required at Justice is good to have.
  • At the end of the day the applicant needs to have the experience, knowledge and skill set to undertake the role applied for, and this will be displayed during the entire recruitment process and subsequent reference checks.

On average, how many positions become available per year?

These details are difficult to monitor on an individual basis due to size of the department and number of roles we recruit.  For the last financial year 261 roles were advertised under the LEGAL work category.  These roles range from Tipstaff, Court Registrars, Legal Assistants / Officers, through to Registry Officers, Managers, Policy roles, Solicitors, Principal Solicitors and many others.

How many applications do you receive for these?

Depending on the role we could receive anywhere from 20 to 100 applications or more.  For the legal roles we recruited we had an average of 32 applicants per role.

Where do you advertise your positions?

A majority of our roles will be advertised on:

Do you use a recruitment agency?

We have a panel of agencies that support the recruitment of the department.  However, the department has a dedicated team of Recruitment Advisers that will handle a bulk of the senior level roles internally.

Castan Centre logo    Progressive Law Network logo Victoria Law Foundation Grants logo