I’m an Associate to a District Court Judge. I completed a Bachelor of Laws in 2015.
My primary role is to assist my Judge with the everyday running of his courtroom and to provide any support required in his chambers. This includes photocopying exhibits and transcripts, editing judgments, and conducting research particular areas of the law.
Because I’m assisting a judge, I tend to travel quite a bit. One day, I might be in Sydney assisting with an insurance law matter, and the next day I can find myself in Campbelltown where my judge is overseeing an attempted murder trial before a jury! I have also travelled on regional circuits to Tamworth and Wagga Wagga – places to which, I confess, I perhaps would not have travelled if not for this job.
Although not associates have law degrees, a working knowledge of the legal system is desirable.
The best part of my job is being able to watch theory being put into practice in the theatre of a courtroom. Every day I develop my understanding of courtroom procedure and the administration of justice. I am particularly fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to different Judges about the areas of I am interested in.
My Judge has been a great mentor and has been willing to answer a range of questions about the law. Judge has also asked me for my opinion as to arguments I have found persuasive and has given me feedback about my thoughts. My role is very intellectually challenging and in a sense, unique, given that many people will never be able to gain the same insight or experience. Overall my role has provided me with an invaluable source of learning and has encouraged me to think more critically and be more engaged with the law.
At the end of my law degree I did not know which direction I wished to take my career, but after having spent a year in this position, I can comfortably say that I have firm view about what steps I want to take next.
I have to perform a lot of administrative tasks which may not be as glamorous, such as running from courtroom to the registry to locate a missing file! Part of the role also involves acting as a gatekeeper between the parties, the public and the media, and the Judge. It is critical that I insulate the Judge from any issues that may give rise to a perception of unfairness or bias. This may mean dealing with telephone calls from irate or dissatisfied parties to handling last minute requests from the media.
However, this should not dissuade you from pursuing a role as an Associate or Tipstaff – it definitely an opportunity I do not regret taking and I would encourage you, if interested, to apply for any position that becomes available.