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NSW Crown Solicitor's Office

  • 100 - 500 employees

Anna Rienstra

As a Graduate Solicitor at the Crown Solicitor’s Office, I work with other lawyers to give legal advice to NSW government agencies and to act for them in litigation.

What's your job about?

The Crown Solicitor’s Office provides a variety of legal services to NSW government agencies. As a Graduate Solicitor at the Crown Solicitor’s Office, I work with other lawyers to give legal advice to NSW government agencies and to act for them in litigation. The graduate program involves rotating through four different teams within the Crown Solicitor’s Office, spending six months in each team.

My first rotation was in the Employment & Industrial Relations Law team. My main task in the team was to represent the Office of the Children’s Guardian in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal regarding Working with Children Check litigation. This involved reading and analysing material relevant to whether an applicant for a Working with Children Check (whose application had been refused) posed a risk to the safety of children. I prepared and filed evidence and legal submissions for the Tribunal to consider. I also communicated with clients, barristers, the Tribunal and the applicant’s lawyers by email and telephone on a daily basis. A highlight of my time in this team was appearing at directions hearings in the Tribunal for the Office of the Children’s Guardian and attending the final hearing at the Tribunal. In addition, I assisted with litigation in a range of tribunals, from tattooist and tattoo parlour licences to unfair dismissals and anti-bullying. I also assisted with writing advices to clients on the obligations of NSW government employers, which involved legal research and writing.

My second rotation was in the Criminal Law team. I assisted other lawyers in advising the clients as to whether to apply for orders for continuing detention or extended supervision for offenders who were about to complete a custodial sentence, and whether to apply to extend a person’s status as a forensic patient. I assisted with prosecutions for breaches of extended supervision orders, water offences and failure to vote in local government elections (including appearing in Bankstown Local Court in failure to vote prosecutions). Again, I assisted with writing advices to clients, this time on criminal law issues including the scope of regulatory offence provisions and the prospects of success of prosecutions.

I have just started my third rotation in the Constitutional and Administrative Law team.

What's your background?

I grew up in Wauchope, which is near Port Macquarie on the mid north coast of NSW. At school I was interested in humanities, design and science. I completed my HSC at Wauchope High School and then moved to Sydney to study arts (history and international relations) and law at UNSW.

I lived on UNSW’s campus at Shalom College for the five years I studied at UNSW. While I was at university I developed an interest in public law and studied public law elective subjects. I became interested in academia and was a member of the UNSW Law Journal for four years. This involved editing academic articles prior to publication, and I was the editor responsible for one issue of the Journal. During my time at university, I worked in a commercial firm, government, a community legal centre and for academics at UNSW. I travelled as much as I could during university breaks, when I wasn’t working.

After finishing university, I spent a year working in a commercial law firm in the areas of commercial real estate, and environment and planning. I started as a Graduate Solicitor at the Crown Solicitor’s Office in February 2018. While I work, I am studying Masters of Public & International Law part-time through the University of Melbourne. From July 2019, I will be working as an associate to the Hon Justice Michelle Gordon at the High Court for 18 months.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes. Someone from a different background could work as a government lawyer, provided they have a law degree. The kind of skills I think are important for being a lawyer are communication, writing, analysis, organisation, and time management.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I love doing challenging and interesting work that is in the public interest. Government law also presents questions around the proper use of public power, which I find fascinating. Legal work for government clients tends to promote a public interest, whether this is in protecting the safety of children, protecting the community from dangerous offenders, or promoting compliance with the law. It has been especially satisfying to work on novel or contentious government law issues.

What are the limitations of your job?

Lawyers spend most of their day sitting at a desk inside. It can involve a lot of reviewing and producing documents. At times, working as a lawyer can be stressful and involve working long hours when deadlines are impending. It can be emotionally tiring to deal with confronting subject matter as well as to manage the expectations of clients and different stakeholders.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Be proactive in developing and nurturing relationships with people in your area of interest. Mentors can be invaluable in giving guidance and providing a fresh perspective based on their experiences. They can help you explore possibilities you may not have been able to see yourself.
  • Explore your interests, even if you’re not sure where these might lead you when you set out.
  • Be confident in yourself and take risks. You don’t know whether you’ll succeed until you try and, whether you succeed or not, the experience will be valuable in some way.