Sean Bowes

University of New South Wales
Graduate Solicitor
Sean studied Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Bachelor of Arts at University of New South Wales in 2017.

What's your job about?

The Crown Solicitor’s Office (“CSO”) is the largest provider of legal services to the NSW Government and its agencies. Under the supervision of senior solicitors, I participate in complex legal cases. My work ranges from conducting legal research and factual investigations, drafting legal advice, to attending court and communicating with clients, barristers and other parties.

What's your background?

I grew up in Newcastle and still visit often. I have family and friends there. I left Newcastle when I was 18 to study at the University of New South Wales. While at university, I enjoyed many experiences that developed my practical skills, such as mooting competitions and internships.

A highlight of my university experience was studying abroad at the University of California, Berkeley. I loved the passion for social change that I encountered in the Berkeley community and extended my stay by working as a research assistant in public law and comparative law.

I wanted to work at the CSO because I was enthusiastic about working in diverse areas of law and I wanted to develop my skills as a lawyer. I applied for the Graduate Solicitor position via the I work for NSW website, which advertises NSW government jobs. At that time I was undertaking my practical legal training in Broken Hill, so I participated in the selection process remotely. I completed selection tasks online and undertook the interview by phone. I passed the selection and started as a graduate in February 2018.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes. My graduate solicitor cohort comes from a variety of legal backgrounds, including government, the courts, the community sector and private practice.

In my role, it is advantageous to be self-motivated, a good communicator and a problem solver. A public service ethos is also important. To me, this means recognising the trust that has been placed in me and acting in a way that is respectful of that trust.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The coolest thing about my job is the opportunity to work on high-profile cases that have broad economic, social and political implications. I often see news items in the media that are related to the CSO’s work. Most of all, I love learning about new areas of law.

What are the limitations of your job?

The learning curve is steep, and was particularly steep when I first started. There are a lot of policies, procedures and IT systems to learn and understand. The biggest challenge is knowing when to ask for help, who to ask, and how to frame the question. There isn’t always a clear answer and it’s often a matter of personal judgment. As I have gotten to know the organisation better and developed stronger relationships, this has become much easier.

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

  • Prioritise the projects, activities and people that inspire your passion.
  • Make your values central to your choices. Advocate for causes that you believe in and devote your time to them. People tend to respect those who are capable of communicating their values assertively.
  • Personal development is an integral part of professional development. You will need technical skills as a lawyer, but strong technical skills will not be enough. Self-awareness, empathy and communication skills are also of critical importance.