Should I become a judge’s associate?

As I finish my second-last year of uni, I find myself faced with yet another career dilemma. As if putting myself through the clerkship application process wasn’t enough career-related stress for one year, I’m now trying to decide if I should apply for a judge’s associate role.

For those unfamiliar with associateships, they are a position in which you are, in a nutshell, the judge’s right hand man (cue Austin Powers: ‘No, this is me in a nutshell: “Help! I’m in a nutshell! How did I get into this great big nutshell? What kind of shell has a nut like this?”’– I digress).

More specifically the duties of an associate include:

  • Legal research;

  • Liaising with Court staff, the legal profession, government departments, the press and the public;

  • Ensuring the effective and efficient conduct of the Judge’s Court including arraignments, empanelling juries and taking verdicts in criminal trials, listing matters, custody of court files and recording orders; and

  • Travelling with the Judge on circuit and other Court business.

So that brings me to the question: should I or shouldn’t I apply for an associateship position? Personally, I believe every dilemma can be solved with a pros/cons list:


  • Beneficial to a career in litigation or at the bar

  • Develop a detailed understanding of court procedures

  • Learn from a great legal mind

  • Make useful career contacts

  • Get to wear a cool robe


  • One year delay on getting admitted and working as a graduate solicitor (unless you choose to do PLT while working as an associate)

Well, for me it seems pretty clear that the pros far outweigh the cons, and so I will definitely be applying soon for a 2013 associate position.

If you’re looking for a judge’s associate position in Queensland, applications will open on 12 December 2011 and close on 10 February 2012. Please visit the Queensland Courts website for more information.

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