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Special Counsel (Identified) - First Nations Justice - Flexible Location

Environmental Defenders Office Ltd
  • Location: Anywhere within Australia or the Torres Strait Islands
  • Term: until 30 April 2026
  • Full-time: 37.5 hours (Part time at 0.8 FTE will be considered)
  • Remuneration: SCHADS Level 8: $127,725 - $141,668 + 11% super + 17.5% Annual Leave Loading
  • Mandatory Requirements: This is an Identified Position – It is an occupational requirement that this position be filled by an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person
  • Travel will be required at times to fulfil this role
  • Reporting to: Director, First Nations Program

Since time immemorial, First Nations and Indigenous peoples have been taking care of their Countries in Australia and the Pasifik. These deep understandings, knowledges and experiences are critical to maintaining the health and vitality of Australia and the Pasifik’s unique wildlife and ecosystems. EDO respects these great knowledges, and strongly believes that EDO cannot achieve a world where nature thrives without working alongside First Nations and Indigenous peoples.

EDO has been doing a lot of internal work in ensuring that EDO is constantly building itself to be as safe as it can for First Nations peoples and aims to become an employer of choice for First Nations peoples. EDO has done this through beginning the establishment of Indigenous leadership at the Executive level, which is guiding EDO to better work alongside First Nations peoples to protect their Countries and waters in Australia and the Torres Strait Islands, and centre understanding of – and respect for – First Nations perspectives in our work. EDO has also built the governance and policy infrastructure within EDO to sustain, whilst continuously improving, culturally safe work practices for all team members, but specifically First Nations team members. This structure includes a First Nations Strategic Advisory Committee, made up of six First Nations community members from across Australia and the Torres Strait Islands who provide strategic guidance to EDO.

EDO understands that First Nations professionals can bring both their professional skills, as well as their lived experiences as First Nations peoples to their work, which can provide better services to First Nations clients. EDO is very excited to reach the maturity to now safely be able to offer identified positions within EDO, to better serve a large portion of EDOs client base.

The Opportunity

This is a unique opportunity for a passionate and experienced First Nations Special Counsel to lead the Western legal elements of the EDO’s First Nations Justice team, which will include building and maintaining reciprocal relationships with First Nations communities who are needing to protect their cultural heritage. This role will also help shape the strategic direction of work relating to First Nations communities.

We are looking for a talented lawyer with demonstrated litigation, legal education or outreach experience. You will provide culturally safe legal engagement, education and legal reform on cultural heritage issues facing First Nations peoples.
You will have the opportunity to build relationships and learn from a broad range of community members, as well as solicitors and other professionals across the EDO who work on a range of issues in pursuit of environmental justice – climate change, pollution, mining, gas, cultural heritage, biodiversity and human rights.

Your work will include litigation, legal advice and representation, policy and law reform, legal education and at times, outreach. Your work may even take you beyond the bounds of Australia, as you represent clients, or give advice to clients, on international mechanisms to further their causes, including at the United Nations.

Depending on your location, travel will be required for court, outreach and other engagements.

Candidate Profile

You are a senior First Nations lawyer with litigation and/or law or policy reform experience looking for an opportunity to use your professional skillset and lived experiences to work with the largest public interest environmental law centre in the region.
You will have an unrestricted practising certificate, and strong PAE working as a lawyer with demonstrated First Nations community engagement experience.

This position represents an opportunity to deliver legal advice, education, and representation in a culturally safe manner on Country within First Nations communities, largely based on cultural heritage at state, territory and commonwealth levels. A critical part of this role is to also proactively identify areas of Western law which can be improved through decolonisation and indigenisation, via law reform practices.

Lawyers who think outside the box, who enjoy working with First Nations communities, who prioritise culturally safe practices and want a chance to think creatively about delivering legal information in a legally pluralistic country are strongly encouraged to apply.
You want to work at the intersect of climate justice, human rights, the rights of First Nations and the environment and want an opportunity to make an impact for peoples and nature.

Key Selection Criteria


  • An unrestricted practicing certificate or entitlement to one
  • A minimum of 5 years PAE working as a solicitor
  • Supervisory skills and development of legal and non-legal staff, as well as managing a wide range of matters.
  • Expertise in environmental law – cultural heritage laws, policies and issues particularly desired.
  • Strong problem-solving skills and ability to make sound judgements and decisions based on consideration of different views
  • Demonstrated ability to work productively and to deadlines
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills suited to a range of audiences
  • Demonstrated extensive litigation experience with high level and complex matters in administrative or environmental law and/or related disciplines
  • Demonstrated experience in supervising legal staff in delivering on advice and litigation work, including responsibility for reviewing and approving court documents and associated work

Desirable experience

  • Experience in undertaking law or policy reform experience desirable
  • Demonstrated experience working with First Nations people or diverse communities and individuals highly desirable
  • Understanding of, or experience of international mechanisms, including at the United Nations, and UNDRIP.

Personal qualities and cultural competency

  • A champion of the EDO values
  • Strong initiative and self-motivation
  • Commitment to the protection of human rights and the environment
  • A strong sense of ethics and understanding of professional obligations
  • Demonstrated awareness of and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of First Nations and peoples from diverse cultures, backgrounds and orientations in both the delivery of our work and our internal culture
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a collaborative and team-based environment

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.
  • Affinity groups for the following: Disability Affinity Group, Global Majority* & LGBTQIA+

*Global Majority is a collective term that first and foremost speaks to and encourages those so-called, to think of themselves as belonging to the majority on planet earth. It refers to people who are Black, African, Asian, Brown, dual-heritage, indigenous to the global south, and or, have been racialised as ‘ethnic minorities’.

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 respect First Nations Peoples’ knowledges and experiences, and work with them to protect their Countries and cultures.

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

Click 'Apply Now' to submit your application.

If you have queries in regards to this advert, please feel free to contact the Director – First Nations Program, Casey Kickett on – [email protected] using the subject line: Special Counsel (Identified) - First Nations Justice - Flexible Location enquiry via EthicalJobs for an informal yarn about the position.

Applications must include a CV and a letter that clearly addresses each of the selection criteria.

Please note: Your application may be considered for future roles at the EDO within the next 12 months without additional advertising. Please notify us in your application if you would not like to be considered for similar roles beyond this recruitment.

If you have any accessibility needs for the recruitment or interviewing process, please let us know in your application or by emailing [email protected].

Other Information

EDO recognises that vaccination is a personal choice, and we must find a balance between the safety of employees and volunteers, and individual rights. Accordingly, we have developed a Covid-19 Safety Policy to protect the health and safety of our employees, volunteers, clients, and visitors in our workplace. This Policy requires EDO employees, volunteers, clients, and visitors who enter our offices or attend in-person EDO meetings or EDO events to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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.

To read the position please click here.

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Environmental Defenders Office Ltd's logo
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Applications for this role will take you to the employer's site.

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