Providing close legal support to Air Force commanders across Australia and on military operations overseas, being an Air Force legal officer offers a legal career like no other.
Air Force Reserve legal officers play a crucial role in supporting Air Force commanders, PAF Legal Officers, and Air Force personnel. Air Force Reserve legal officers may also be deployed overseas in order to provide legal support to military commanders, or in order to perform specific tasks, for example, as legal advisers for inquiries, or in peacekeeping or targeting missions.
The primary areas of practice for Air Force Reserve legal officers are administrative law, military discipline law, and international and operations law. These areas reflect the key roles of Air Force Reserve legal officers: providing advice to Air Force personnel in relation to their conduct, assisting commanders with the management of their personnel, ensuring the smooth operation of the military justice system, and enabling military operations and military aviation in Australia, and overseas, to comply with Australia’s domestic and international legal obligations.
Outside of these key areas, Air Force Reserve legal officers will assist in identifying and advising on the full range of legal risks that are relevant to the activities of the Air Force and the Australian Defence Force. These legal risks can arise under, for example, environmental law, work health and safety law, and contract law.
To succeed as an Air Force Reserve legal officer, you need to have a willingness to learn about the full range of work undertaken by the Air Force: from air shows to targeting, and from managing the welfare of personnel to advising on cyber operations. Air Force Reserve legal officers are expected to be able to build strong professional relationships with their commanders, personnel, and their colleagues, remaining impartial while providing practical solutions that enable missions to be accomplished. And, given the important role of Air Force Reserve legal officers in training Air Force personnel on how the law affects their work, Air Force also expects its Reserve legal officers to have the ability to distil complex legal concepts into clear and understandable ideas.
Administrative law: Commanders frequently turn to Air Force Reserve legal officers to ensure they comply with the requirements of administrative law when they make decisions that affect ADF members. Consequently, Air Force Reserve legal officers may provide advice on equal opportunities and anti-discrimination matters, and on responses to applications for redress of grievance. Again, Air Force Reserve legal officers play an important part in training commanders and other ADF personnel who are involved in administrative decision-making. In particular, Air Force Reserve legal officers will often be engaged to provide personal legal advice to Air Force personnel in relation to allegations of misconduct, or to assist in the running of inquiries or internal fact-finding processes in Air Force.
Operations and International Law: Air Force Reserve legal officers provide advice on domestic and international law and their effects on the use of aerospace power. International law issues may include the interpretation and negotiation of international treaties, agreements, and memoranda of understanding, international air and space law, the law of the sea, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and UN Security Council Resolutions. Operations law also includes all aspects of law that may impact on Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations, including domestic law issues.
Military Discipline Law: The Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 (DFDA) provides a code of military discipline for the ADF. Specialist legal input is necessary because of the complexity of the work undertaken under the DFDA. Legal officers provide legal reports for reviews of proceedings, and Air Force Reserve Legal Officers will often act as counsel in courts martial and Defence Force magistrate trials. Legal officers also play an important part in training commanders and other ADF personnel who are involved in the military discipline process.
Other areas of practice: Air Force Reserve Legal officers will also provide advice in relation to workplace health and safety, copyright law, environmental law, management of common law claims, and government contracts.