Victoria Legal Aid

New Lawyers Program

This two-year program offers an opportunity to work closely with expert lawyers, undertake casework and appear in court.

The New Lawyers Program is offered to first-year post-admission lawyers over two years. While you do not need to be admitted to practice at the time of application, you must be admitted before you start the program, or immediately following. The number of positions available changes each year, with positions also available for applicants who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

Applications for our 2023 program will be advertised late February/March 2023. Successful applicants will start the program in early October 2023.

You will have the opportunity to:

  • do regular appearance work in courts and tribunals
  • complete casework and conduct advice clinics
  • work with diverse clients on a daily basis
  • get hands-on experience through rotating metropolitan and regional placements
  • learn from expert lawyers from our criminal, civil and family law programs
  • participate in our professional legal education activities
  • contribute to law reform and community legal education.

Please note the program is incredibly competitive with only limited positions available. Therefore we encourage you to consider other legal roles that may be available across our 15 offices. We also encourage applicants to consider the many benefits of working in a regional office.

A diverse workforce

We are an equal opportunity employer and encourage people from culturally diverse backgrounds, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to apply for roles within our organisation. We will make adjustments where possible to suit your unique circumstances.

Our clients come from all walks of life and so do our staff. We hire great people from a wide variety of backgrounds and foster a work culture that is inclusive as well as diverse. Your unique ideas and perspectives are valued so that we best represent the people we serve.

About the program

You will complete comprehensive induction and training while learning on the job through up to four six-month placements. Throughout the program you will build on your experience and skills in our offices across Victoria.

You will spend at least one six-month placement practising in our Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Horsham, Shepparton, Warrnambool or Morwell offices. This placement will expose you to a diverse range of legal issues in a fast-paced environment and help develop the breadth of your legal skills. It is an excellent opportunity to experience life in regional Victoria and the different range of legal issues experienced there.

The comprehensive training and development covers a broad range of professional skills to best prepare you for practise as a lawyer with us. These include:

  • negotiation and alternative dispute resolution
  • client communication
  • advocacy
  • cross-cultural awareness and communication
  • mental health first aid
  • safe and effective client interactions.

You will be supported throughout the New Lawyers Program by an in-house practice that includes over 60 lawyers who are Law Institute of Victoria Accredited Specialists.

Prerequisites

The New Lawyers Program is designed specifically for first-year lawyers. At the time of application, you are allowed to have worked up to 12 months in a role that required a practicing certificate. If you have a particular interest in social justice but have worked longer than 12 months, we still want to hear from you! Please refer to our careers page where we advertise vacancies each Friday.

At the time you start the program, you must be admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Victoria or eligible for admission in Victoria under the Mutual Recognition Principle.

Application and interview process

Details on the application and interview process will be outlined on our careers page when the positions are advertised in February/March 2023.

What some of our new lawyers say about the program

Malaz Dewanyang

New Lawyers Program participant Malaz Dewanyang

New Lawyers Program participant Malaz Dewanyang

'I started the New Lawyers Program during COVID-19, so the initiating process was slightly different to the previous years and new lawyers all started online. Commencing a new position in a midst of a pandemic was disquieting and I was not sure what to expect. From day one of the program, I have experienced levels of support, guidance, and assurance. My supervisors and mentors all want to see me succeed and the training is well delivered.

'I have been in the program for about three months now and I feel confident in what I have learnt thus far. My first placement was blissfully in regional Victoria and I have had exposure to family law mediations, parenting agreements, civil, and predominantly criminal law.

'It has been extremely rewarding being a part of a program which provides continuous opportunities for growth and allows you to give back to the community by assisting some of the most vulnerable clients. I look forward to completing all the rotations and learning about the various areas of practise as I discover the area I am most passionate about.'

Myra Bigger

New Lawyers Program participant Myra Bigger

New Lawyers Program participant Myra Bigger

'For anyone with a passion for social justice, the New Lawyers Program is certainly a fantastic beginning to one’s legal career. The program offers a unique opportunity for first-hand experience in diverse areas of law across different offices in the state of Victoria. The new lawyer is given the opportunity to integrate with the regional offices as well as learn much about the different catchment areas and the specific socio-economic challenges within each community. Furthermore, the opportunity to practice within different fields of law is of major benefit to any new lawyer. Legal issues often intersect, therefore, the knowledge gained throughout the program promotes holistic legal practice. Lawyers in this program are also mentored and supported by a range of senior lawyers, each freely imparting their experience and knowledge to their mentees entering the legal profession. The skills and knowledge new lawyers gain from this program is undeniable.

'The New Lawyers Program is a unique opportunity which enabled me to develop and grow as a new lawyer. The program has given me every opportunity to become the best lawyer I can be to help Victoria’s most disadvantaged people. I believe the program has given me the skillset and knowledge base necessary to provide the highest quality legal services to Victoria Legal Aid clients who deserve no less.

'I would encourage any new lawyer to apply for this program and join the Victoria Legal Aid team. You will be given a fantastic start to your legal practice leading to a successful legal career.'

John Morrissey

New Lawyers Program participant John Morrissey

New Lawyers Program participant John Morrissey

'The New Lawyers Program has been the ideal way for me to begin my legal career. I began practicing in criminal law and the opportunity to complete placements in both the Sunshine and Melbourne offices. The training and support I have received throughout the program has been incredible.

'The program’s structure has helped me develop the skills in advocacy and dealing with clients which are necessary in legal practice. Even throughout the coronavirus lockdown I was always able to access the professional support I needed. The program is also a great way to experience different areas in Victoria Legal Aid – I am currently on placement in the Legal Help team, working as a lawyer and assisting with a project to encourage Aboriginal people to use the Legal Help service.

'The sense of camaraderie you develop with your fellow new lawyers is also extremely valuable and can make all the difference as you are coming to grips with the challenges and difficulties of legal practice.'

Contact us

For more information email newlawyers@vla.vic.gov.au or phone (03) 9269 0413.

To see more of our career opportunities, go to our Current positionsExternal Link page.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au

Reviewed 18 January 2023

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