Graduate profile | Law

Graduate profile

Talia Epstein

Solicitor, Legal Aid NSW
"I love the challenges that my job constantly poses"

My role

I am a solicitor at Legal Aid NSW in their graduate program, the Career Development Program. I currently work in the civil law section of Legal Aid (the smallest division of Legal Aid) and will soon rotate to the criminal law section. My role in the civil law section is to give advice to and represent clients who are eligible for legal aid (usually those who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer) in a variety of civil law matters, in courts, tribunals and alternative dispute resolution schemes.

A typical day

A typical day will include research on current matters; drafting correspondence and submissions; telephone inquiries and negotiations with other parties; meeting with and interviewing clients; and providing advice and minor assistance services to clients. Every week I do an advice clinic in our office which involves giving advice session to clients on civil law. I also attend an outreach clinic once a week at a local soup kitchen as part of the Homeless Persons Legal Service.

What I like most

I love the variety of the work involved in civil law and getting to work closely with my clients over an extended period of time. I have the opportunity to develop relationships with my clients and so I can see what difference my work makes to their lives. I love the challenges that my job constantly poses – from dealing with difficult clients who may suffer from significant mental illness, to developing creative strategies to tackle complex legal problems, the job constantly poses new challenges and opportunities.

How I got here

During university, I volunteered at Redfern Community Legal Centre. I also completed an internship at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre for Public Law at UNSW as part of my studies, and worked part-time at Freehills as a paralegal. When I graduated from university, I worked as an intern in the Office of the President at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. These experiences gave me a taste for public interest law and I subsequently completed a four month Practical Legal Training (PLT) placement at Legal Aid which also allowed me to gain some practical experience working in the Human Rights group at Legal Aid.

Hours per week

In theory, the public sector working week is a 35 hour week and any time worked in excess of that entitles you to take “flex” days off in lieu of the additional hours worked. In reality, however, it’s difficult to stick to those hours, particularly when court deadlines are looming. Even so, the hours are much better than corporate law and a typical day for me will be 9am to 6 or 6.30pm.

Salary range

The starting salary for an entry level solicitor is approximately $60,000 - $65,000. This increases each year on the job.

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