• Location: Preferably based in the Canberra office; or willing to travel to Canberra regularly
  • Term: 3-year contract
  • Full time: 37.5 hours per week (0.8 considered)
  • Remuneration: SCHADS Level 8: $109-120k + 10.5% super + 17.5% Annual Leave Loading
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are particularly encouraged to apply

We are looking for an exceptional lawyer with a courageous vision for national environmental law to liaise with the Commonwealth Government and other stakeholders to achieve law reform.

The Environmental Defenders Office is the largest and most impactful environmental law centre in the Australia Pacific. We are dedicated to protecting our climate, communities and shared environment by providing access to justice, running ground-breaking litigation, and leading law reform advocacy.

Purpose of the position

Working with the Head of Policy & Law Reform and sitting in the Systemic Change Team, the Special Counsel – Commonwealth & Government Liaison is a Canberra based position and will be the EDO’s key interface with the Commonwealth Government. It is focused on ensuring strong engagement by the EDO with key Commonwealth law reform processes in our areas of strategic focus.

The Special Counsel – Commonwealth & Government Liaison will:

  • Help develop EDO positions on policy and legislative matters.
  • Track legislation and policy development initiatives.
  • Perform policy and legislative analysis.
  • Proactively seek opportunities for EDO to advance reform priorities.

Candidate profile

We’re looking for an experienced lawyer passionate about working in the public interest during this decade of consequence.

The Special Counsel – Commonwealth & Government Liaisonis responsible for providing policy and legal advice in the context of EDO’s national environmental law reform priority areas: including biodiversity, safe climate and freshwater. The successful candidate will, among other things, be responsible – in consultation with the Head of Policy and Law Reform – for leading EDO’s work on reform of the EPBC Act and the establishment of a Commonwealth EPA.

In addition to working internally and with Government, the successful candidate will work closely to develop EDO’s partnerships within the broad range of organisational stakeholders involved with environmental law reform, ensuring – with the Head of Policy and Law Reform – that EDO creates and maintains a leadership position on issues within the Policy and Law Reform Program’s remit.

This role involves liaising with Government departments and agencies, Members of Parliament, and a range of stakeholders and experts working on national environmental law reform. A critical part of this role is the ability to build positive relationships with Government, parliament and other stakeholders.

Key Selection Criteria


  • At least 5 years PAE, including law reform advisory experience.
  • Ability to engage in Commonwealth work, including knowledge of Commonwealth parliamentary and government processes.
  • Advocacy experience, including the confidence to engage with key stakeholders in government, business and community.
  • Sound knowledge of priority national environmental law reform issues.
  • Ability to think and work strategically, across themes and jurisdictions.


We’re looking for a lawyer with a vision for environmental advocacy and national environmental law reform – who is comfortable liaising with Government, parliament and a wide range of stakeholders. You will need to be enthusiastic, flexible, take initiative. At a personal level you will be comfortable working with our distributed team across Australia.


All staff have a responsibility to:

  • Develop and maintain a good knowledge of EDO’s role and policies.
  • Represent EDO in a positive and effective manner by actively demonstrating EDO Values.
  • Attend, and contribute actively and constructively at staff meetings.
  • Maintain appropriate records, assist with office administration, such as files, computer and precedent systems.
  • Seek opportunities for personal and professional development, particularly related to the team and position’s specific areas of responsibility.
  • Respond to requests by clients and fellow staff in a knowledgeable, professional, constructive and
    respectful manner.
  • Provide accurate and timely data and information for reporting, fundraising and communications

Our culture and benefits

We care deeply about creating a workplace where our team members feel valued, respected, and empowered. We are committed to providing equal opportunity regardless of gender identity, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or life stage.

  • The chance to be part of the largest environmental legal practice in the Australia-Pacific
  • A very flexible and family-friendly workplace
  • Option to work from home and the office
  •  8 weeks paid parental leave, regardless of gender or carer status 
  • 15 days personal/carer’s leave   
  • 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave 
  • 3 days paid cultural leave  
  • Extra leave over the Christmas period
  • Access to Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Ongoing professional development opportunities
  • EDO proudly has a JEDI (Justice, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion) Committee and a Mental Health Ambassador Committee, and has developed a First Nations Indigenous Peoples Program with the aid of indigenous-led consultancies.

Our values

Commitment – We are committed to; a united organisation, to each other, to collaboration, to justice, to our communities and to creating a world where nature thrives. 

Diversity – We are respectful of and welcome diversity of staff, volunteers, offices, environmental regions, communities, stakeholders. 

Integrity – We work effectively, efficiently, strategically, professionally, and ethically; “justice is in our nature”. 

Vision – We lead change and environmental empowerment using innovation, creativity, and courage. 

How to apply

Applications should include a current CV; a cover letter no more than one page; and responses to the Key Selection Criteria demonstrating relevant experience of no more than two pages.

Applications which do not address the selection criteria will not be considered. 

The Key Selection Criteria show the minimum essential requirements of the position. The desirable criteria outline additional attributes which would enable the successful candidate to perform the role more effectively; they are not essential but may be used to distinguish between applicants during the shortlisting process.

All offers of employment may be subject to satisfactory background checks including a National Police Check, disclosure of previous or current disciplinary action, referee checks, proof of eligibility to work in Australia and qualification checks. 

 EDO particularly encourages applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, workers of all ages, people living with disability and people who identify as LGBTQIA+.

Applications close on midnight Friday 30 September 2022. Please email your application to [email protected] with “Special Counsel – Commonwealth & Government Liaison” in the subject line.