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Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Harriet Boothman

As a graduate, I conduct legal research, monitor developments and draft legal advice.

What's your job about?

I joined the Department of Employment as a graduate in the Workplace Relations Legal Group. We provide legal and strategic advice to the Minister and Government on employment and work health safety issues, develop legislation and are involved in proceedings before courts and administrative tribunals.

As a graduate, I conduct legal research, monitor developments and draft legal advice. Recently I’ve worked on a significant ongoing regulations project, reviewed ministerial briefs and contributed to the development of legislative instruments.

What's your background?

I’m from Melbourne and moved to Canberra to join the graduate program. I completed a bachelor of arts before beginning my law degree, which was a great opportunity to study some topics I am passionate about and also consider what I really wanted to do as a career. I was always interested in understanding the way society is regulated and problems are solved, so I decided to study law, and my interest in workplace relations is a natural extension of that. I also think my law studies really benefited from engaging in some real world legal experience that complemented the theoretical work. I did research for a barrister, volunteered at a community legal centre and completed an internship, and I drew on all these experiences when applying for the graduate program.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes! While having a law degree is a pre-requisite for working in the legal areas of the Department, so many other skills are necessary and it’s important to know how to consolidate your practical skills and professional behaviour. You will be exposed to a variety of tasks during the graduate year that require you to think analytically, communicate coherently and effectively, and be able to adapt to the changing workflow. These skills can be developed in all kinds of ways and are valued by the Department.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The team is incredibly passionate about workplace relations law which lends itself to a very collegiate workplace culture, and my supervisors have been really nurturing when it comes to developing the skills and legal knowledge you need to do your job well. It’s also exciting to get the chance to contribute to high profile work that often receives a lot of media attention and contributes to positive outcomes for the Australian people.

What are the limitations of your job?

The workload is very responsive to the demands of Government and the Parliament and can be subject to change at short notice.

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

  • Think about the areas of law that you are interested in and why you want to work in that area – if you enjoy the work you are doing you will get so much more out of the graduate year.
  • The graduate team are impressed by candidates that have a well-rounded application. Students should look for opportunities that fit with their personal circumstances –whether it’s a part-time job, volunteering or campus activities – these opportunities mean that you are best placed to demonstrate how well you meet the selection criteria.
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself when it comes to grades and getting a graduate role to the detriment of enjoying university life – I know it can be hard but you’ll get there in the end!