Updating Results

Attorney-General's Department (AGD)

  • #9 in Government & public services
  • 500 - 1,000 employees

Chase Whitfield

If you are still deciding where to begin your career I would advise you to apply for any roles you think you may be interested in. I found that with each job application I completed I developed a clearer idea of what I wanted to do.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on the Central Coast of New South Wales before moving to Sydney to study at the University of Technology, Sydney. I completed one year of my international studies degree in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During and after my final year of university I volunteered at a community legal centre which specialised in migration and refugee law. 

How did you get to your current job position?

I joined the graduate program in January 2019. I recently completed the graduate program and began a permanent position as a government lawyer in the Industrial Relations Legal Division. 

How did you choose your specialisation?

After university I spent one year living in Nepal where I worked at a public policy institute that focused on labour and migration. I started that role because I was interested in migration but ended up becoming very passionate about the government’s role in protecting employment rights and conditions. I consider workplace protections as an important practical application of human rights. 

I decided to apply for a legal graduate role at then Department of Jobs and Small Business. During my graduate year the industrial relations functions moved from that department to the Attorney-General’s Department. 

What was your interview process like?

My interview process involved a written assessment and a panel interview. I was interviewed by senior government lawyers in my work area who spoke very passionately about their jobs and reinforced my already strong desire to work here. The interview was focused on work strategies and problem solving skills. It was useful to be able to demonstrate an ability to collaborate effectively in different environments by drawing on examples from work and university.  

For the written assessment I was asked to write a letter of advice to the Minister applying some provided legislative provisions to a particular hypothetical scenario. This was all to be done in under 30 minutes so it was important to stay calm and get the key points on the page.

What does your employer do?

The Attorney-General's Department delivers programs and policies to maintain and improve Australia's law and justice framework, and to facilitate jobs growth through policies that promote fair, productive, flexible and safe workplaces.

What are your areas of responsibility?

I currently work in the Safety, Compensation and Institutions branch of the Industrial Relations Legal Division. We are responsible for the Commonwealth workers’ compensation legislation and Fair Work Act penalties, compliance, enforcement and protections for vulnerable workers. 

Can you describe a typical workday? 

The variety of work makes it hard to describe a typical workday. I have just returned to my home team after a placement in the administrative law section. I am currently working on a high profile legislation project which involves a lot of legal research and testing different proposals by anticipating how the provisions would apply to various factual scenarios. 

What are the career prospects with your job?

There is a huge variety of exciting opportunities within the Attorney-General’s Department itself across legal, policy and program areas. The legal and policy skills you learn here also equip you for a wide range of roles in the Australian Public Service and beyond.   

Could someone with a different background do your job?

You do not need a legal background to join or excel in the Attorney-General Department’s graduate program. The department is looking for graduates with an analytical mind and an ability to work collaboratively to solve complex problems. You will receive excellent training throughout the program to develop technical skills. 

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now? 

If I wasn’t working at the Attorney-General’s Department I would still like to be working in employment law, maybe at a community legal centre. 

What do you love the most about your job? 

I find it very rewarding to work on legislation that will effect a lot of Australians at work. It is interesting to learn about how legislation is developed and I really enjoy the challenge of providing technical legal advice on current and proposed laws.  

What’s the biggest limitation of your job? 

I have never worked on the weekend and only need to stay late on rare occasions. The general expectation is a standard 9 – 5 work day. I feel that I am given a good amount of autonomy and responsibility for my level of experience and guidance is always available.  The stress levels of my role can sometimes be high when we are working on urgent tasks but every team I have been in has really pulled together during those moments so I have always felt supported. 

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student? 

  1. I really encourage you to consider a public service career in Canberra. Canberra is a great place to live and because the whole city seems to maintain a pretty healthy work life balance I have dubbed it the capital of hobbies. You can learn so many different languages, dance styles and sports I had never heard of (underwater rugby?) here. 
  2. I would say throughout university and certainly, once you start work to keep up (or start) your hobby or passion.
  3. If you are still deciding where to begin your career I would advise you to apply for any roles you think you may be interested in. I found that with each job application I completed I developed a clearer idea of what I wanted to do. Good luck and hope to see you in Canberra soon!