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NSW Crown Solicitor's Office

  • 100 - 500 employees

Camille Laker

My work can affect people in a very real way – working on a coronial inquest means I can help to give a family answers about their loved one’s death.

What's your job about?

Broadly speaking, the Crown Solicitor’s Office provides legal services to the government of NSW and its agencies. As a result, the work of the CSO is as diverse as the work the government does – from child protection to native title, employment, and commercial law.

As a graduate solicitor, I was given responsibility from my very first day for drafting court documents and evidence, briefing barristers, and attending a range of different courts. My supervisors are focused on teaching me by letting me do things, rather than by just getting me to watch them.

I am currently completing a rotation in the Inquiries Practice Group, whose work focuses on inquests at the State Coroner’s Court. In one particular week, I sat in a meeting with the State Coroner, Counsel Assisting the Coroner (a barrister who assists the Coroner), and my supervisor to discuss the progress of an upcoming inquest. I also updated a brief of evidence in another inquest to include new evidence, and drafted a submission to the NSW Attorney General recommending that Senior Counsel be briefed for a new inquest.

What's your background?

I grew up in Sydney and moved to Canberra to study at the Australian National University. I chose the ANU because of their focus on public and international law, and for an opportunity to live outside Sydney.

During my studies, I spent a year in London at the London School of Economics.

After finishing my degree in Canberra, I moved to Brisbane to work as an associate to a judge of the Federal Court of Australia.

For me, the CSO was the perfect place to pull together my experience and interests. I consider myself lucky to receive the same type of excellent training and supervision that you can get at large law firms, while also being able to work in areas of law that I am actually interested in. Also, I had the privilege of working under the state’s first female Crown Solicitor.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely. The variety of work that the NSW government does means that it benefits the CSO to recruit people who are experienced in different areas of government law, and who have different areas of interest.

It is important to be adaptable and resilient in this job, as you will be exposed to a variety of legal issues.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is that I get exposed to areas of law and work that no other firm does. My work can affect people in a very real way – working on a coronial inquest means I can help to give a family answers about their loved one’s death. For me, this is much more rewarding than, for example, banking law .

What are the limitations of your job?

Some of the work the CSO does is challenging in terms of its subject matter – for instance, child protection, crime and coronial inquests. The matters I work on in the Inquiries Practice Group are often tragic and involve real people and their lives. However, the flip side of this is that the work is incredibly interesting and important. I have been supported by the training I received at the start of my graduate program, which included training in how to manage vicarious trauma, and by the open attitude of senior solicitors who encourage me to talk about any issues that arise.

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

  • Keep your marks in perspective. When you start work, you won’t remember what mark you got for that essay in Contracts in first year.
  • Look for every opportunity to gain experience in internships or jobs. Even if it is not related to the job you end up doing, you have something to talk about in an interview!
  • Spend time and effort on your friendships. It can  be harder to build friendships when everyone gets busy with graduate jobs, and you really need the support of your friends when you’re starting out.