Legal Graduates – Applications are now open

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s (DESE) legal area is a career pathway for talented and motivated law graduates.

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Graduates will have the opportunity to work on a broad range of legal work in an Australian Government department and gain exposure to Australian Government policies and programs.

Our speciality legal stream graduates will undertake a holistic work program within the legal practice to gain skills and experience. Legal graduates will also have access to a specific legal blended learning program offering a combination of structured training and on the job experience. Support may also be offered towards completion of a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice and admission as a Legal Practitioner if required.

What our legal graduates do

The department’s in-house legal practice offers a wide range of services. Our lawyers provide legal advice across the range of the department’s responsibilities (including in relation to the development of legislation and the conduct of litigation).

Graduates are involved in the full range of work undertaken by our legal teams. Areas include government and administrative law, corporate and commercial law, intellectual property, litigation (including some advocacy work), social security, information law and legislation development.

‘As a 2021 Legal Graduate at DESE, I had the opportunity to complete three rotations across three legal teams related to employment, higher education and child care. I also had the opportunity to undertake a secondment at Services Australia to assist with processing COVID-19 Disaster Relief payments during the height of Australia’s Delta lockdowns. Across my three rotations and secondment, I got to experience a huge variety of legal and service delivery work.

The types of work I was involved in included drafting legal advice on the operation of certain provisions of our portfolio legislation, assisting with legislative development projects such as drafting explanatory statements for legislative instruments, drafting privacy advice, advising on contracts, and getting to make administrative decisions about the release of departmental information under the Freedom of Information Act. I also had countless opportunities to participate in different types of training, as well as receiving support with completing my Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice and admission as a solicitor.

DESE dedicates a huge amount of resources to helping its graduate lawyers develop their expertise and craft, which is what attracted me to this role. Staff at all levels are encouraged to take up all sorts of opportunities and to constantly keep learning, which is a fantastic environment for a new lawyer – Kate, Legal Graduate (2021)

‘As a legal graduate I rotated through the Corporate, Skills and Legislation Advice Legal Teams. During this time I came to appreciate what I consider to be the most rewarding aspect of being an in-house government lawyer – assisting my clients to facilitate and implement significant government programs and policies, sometimes in urgent and complex circumstances. This included drafting advice on a wide range of topics including privacy, duty of care and statutory interpretation, drafting instruments of appointment and explanatory statements for legislative instruments, and advising on commercial law and intellectual property issues. I found this work to be varied, interesting, fulfilling and integral to providing me with a robust basis for my continuing development as an in-house government lawyer.

For me, the breadth of opportunity, the engagement and support from those around me and the culture of the Legal Division set this legal graduate program apart. The program provides legal graduates with a springboard to become competent and capable government lawyers’. – Matthew, Legal Graduate (2021)


Who we are looking for

We offer career opportunities for highly talented and motivated law graduates. We are looking for graduates who have:

  • a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice or a commitment to complete the qualification and gain admission as a Legal Practitioner.
  • A successful academic achievement record would also support a application. 

Additionally, graduates should:

  • have excellent legal and analytical capabilities
  • have successful academic achievement
  • have outstanding interpersonal and communication skills
  • have personal drive and enthusiasm
  • show initiative and flexibility
  • possess leadership qualities.

Additionally, all graduates in the DESE Graduate Program will undertake a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration as the formal learning and development component of the program. This additional tertiary qualification offers all graduates a strong foundational understanding of working in the APS and in a policy agency. This will benefit you, regardless of what stream you are in.

“DESE’s legal practice prides itself on deeply understanding its clients’ business and providing innovative and practical legal solutions to often complex challenges. Our lawyers are collegiate, collaborative, and committed to each other’s development and success. If you see yourself as a motivated, critical thinker who wants to solve problems which directly impact the Australian community in a supportive and high performing environment, then DESE legal is for you!”- Legal Graduate Coordination Team


To be eligible for the DESE Graduate Program, you will be required to:

  • be an Australian Citizen or going to be granted Australian citizenship before you commence and be able to provide evidence of this
  • have successfully completed a Bachelor degree or higher within the five years prior to the start date of the Graduate Program. You will be required to provide evidence of completion before the start of the program
  • obtain and maintain a valid Australian Government Baseline security clearance
  • relocate to Canberra for the commencement of the program if the position requires you to.
  • satisfy the relevant medical check (if required for the position).

Applying for the DESE Graduate Program as a Legal Graduate

Apply for the 2023 DESE Graduate Program by 3 July!

Our work is diverse and meaningful offering you many ways to use your degree in ways you never could have imagined? Join us!

DESE Graduate Program - Our recruitment process

As part of the application process, you can identify the legal stream as your preferred pathway. Please note that you will also be considered for the mainstream pathway as well.

If you apply direct through our graduate process the first step in the application process is to submit your application by 3 July 2022.  You will be advised at each stage of the process if you have progressed further.

If you have any questions, email

Use your degree in ways you never imagine #desegradprogram
Career Pathways 2023 Graduate Program
Australia Top 100 Graduate Employers
Top 100 Finalist 2021 Financial Review
2021 AGRIAS Winner
Australian Network on Disability
Diversity Council Australia
Pride in diversity

The department has consistently featured in the Top 100 Graduate Employer rankings over the past few years. This achievement highlights our active commitment to supporting talented graduates, helping them to expand their skills and experience, and reach their full potential.