How To Become A Lawyer In Australia: A Beginner's Guide

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International students want to know how they can become lawyers in Australia and how long it takes.

 

Are you interested in law, have attention to detail, good communication skills and a logical mindset? Then, a career as a lawyer could be for you.

 

Lawyers advise individuals or businesses when they need assistance with a legal issue. They manage various legal affairs, including preparing legal contracts, drawing up claims, negotiating settlements, dealing with disputes, and appearing in courts on behalf of their clients.

 

Lawyers must attain an undergraduate degree, such as a Bachelor of Law, and complete a program at a law school to earn the Juris Doctorate Degree in Australia. Based on the state you wish to work in, you must pass a lengthy, complex examination to practice as an attorney.

 

If you are considering becoming a lawyer, this blog will discuss the steps you must take to pursue the profession.

 

Find out what lawyers are, what they do, what skills and qualifications they need to succeed, how they advance their careers, and how much they can earn at each step on their career path.

 

 

1. What Is A Lawyer?

 

Also known as an attorney, counsellor, or Counsel, a lawyer is a licensed professional who practices law, provides legal advice, and represents others.

 

Working as a lawyer entails putting abstract legal theories and expertise into practice to solve a particular issue or to promote the interest of those who employ lawyers to provide legal services. The lawyer's role varies wildly, depending on different legal jurisdictions.

 

A lawyer listens to a client's problem, discuss options, give legal advice, take note, and help them understand how the law applies to their case.

 

 

2. Primary Duties And Tasks Of A Lawyer

 

  • Interview and meet with clients to understand their needs.

  • Represent clients in court, in mediation, and at tribunals.

  • Interpret rulings, laws, and regulations for businesses and individuals.

  • Interview clients to identify the nature of the problem and propose and initiate necessary legal action. 

  • Present facts verbally and in writing to the clients or others and argue on behalf of the clients.

  • Provide advice on company, family, commercial, trusts, and partnerships.

  • Critically review and prepare contracts between parties.

  • Act as an executor of the client's will.

  • Prepare and review wills.

  • Act as a guardian or trustee of clients when a situation arises.

  • Handle conveyancing and other property matters by preparing lease documents, mortgage agreements, contracts of sale, and other documents related to the transfer of buildings and land. 

  • Prepare court cases by conducting thorough research and investigations, arranging witness attendance and protection, and providing notice of legal proceedings.

  • Accurate time-keeping and keeping files up to date.

 

 

3. Top Skills Required To Be A Lawyer In Australia

 

A candidate must possess attractive and competitive legal skills to become a successful lawyer in Australia.

 

Below is a list of the most common skills required to become a lawyer in Australia:

 

  • Analytical Skills: We all know that the leading role of a lawyer is to help clients resolve problems. Hence, they must possess analytical or evaluative skills to determine relevant facts, analyze complex information, and provide viable solutions.

 

  • Listening Skills: To be a successful lawyer, one must develop the ability to listen to their clients carefully and patiently. It helps lawyers understand every aspect and angle of the case and establish trust with their clients. Also, lawyers who are great listeners can respond more responsively to judges' questions and communicate more effectively with clients.

 

  • Writing Skills: Lawyers must be precise when preparing documents, like trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and other legal documents. It requires them to have excellent writing skills to express their arguments well and draft compelling and persuasive legal documents without making them too complex.

 

  • Public Speaking Skills: As a legal advisor, you must frequently address a gathering of professionals or convince the council or an adjudicator. Hence, being well-spoken and expressive is essential to keep your point forward and win against the opposing Counsel. A lawyer can improve public speaking skills by practising presenting in front of a mirror and watching inspiring talks and speeches to increase confidence.

 

  • Research Skills: Another vital skill required to be a good lawyer is the ability to research judicial opinions, legal concepts, regulations, statutes, case laws, and other information. A lawyer can successfully find and apply the laws and regulations to a specific issue with exceptional research skills.

 

  • Judgment: As a lawyer, one must be able to make logical and reasonable judgments or conclusions based on minimal facts. Furthermore, a lawyer must critically evaluate these judgments to find weaker points in an argument to address immediately. A quick and sensible judgment can help an attorney steer the case in the client's favour.

 

  • Problem-Solving Skills: Lawyers must be able to separate their prejudice and emotions from their clients' problems to assess the situation critically. Hence, strong problem-solving abilities are essential for attorneys to provide the best advice and prepare the proper defence.

 

  • Interpersonal Skills: Lawyers must earn their clients' loyalty and confidence by developing a trusted relationship. It will allow clients to share confidential case details and feel more comfortable.

 

  • A Strong Moral Code: Some clients are innocent, and some are guilty. You are the only one who can determine whether or not working for a specific client is a good idea.

 

It is much better to work with a client you believe is innocent. However, it is entirely up to you whom you want to work with when deciding who to partner with and why a good sense of right and wrong is needed.

 

 

4. What Does It Take To Become A Lawyer In Australia?

 

If you are interested in becoming a practising lawyer in Australia, you must follow the steps below:

 

 

Step 1: Complete a Law Degree or an Equivalent Course

 

To become a lawyer in Australia in Australia, you must study a Bachelor of Law (LLB) or a Juris Doctor (J.D.) postgraduate degree. The Law Society of the territory or state where you practice must recognise those degrees.

 

An LLB degree is appropriate for those students who do not possess any undergraduate degree. In comparison, J.D. can be pursued by students who have already completed an undergraduate degree in any subject.

 

No matter which law school you are in, you must complete the 'Priestly 11' core law subjects to practice law and become a legal practitioner in Australia.

 

Here are eleven' Priestly 11' subjects:

 

  • Law of Contracts

  • Property Law

  • Company law

  • Federal and state Constitutional law

  • Criminal Law and Procedural Laws

  • Torts

  • Administrative law

  • Equity (including trusts)

  • The Law of Evidence

  • Civil Dispute Resolution

  • Ethics and Professional Responsibility

 

 

In addition to these fundamental subjects, law schools may offer various elective courses and some compulsory subjects. LLB and J.D. are three to four years long and will prepare you to take the next step toward becoming a lawyer.

 

If you are searching for the top law schools in Australia, you must check out the following:

 

  • University of Sydney

  • University of Melbourne Law School

  • The University of Western Australia

  • University of New South Wales (UNSW)

 

 

Step 2: Undertake The Practical Legal Training (PLT) Program

 

After completing your law degree, you must attend a Practical Legal Training (PLT) program or Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (GDLP). Those programs enhance the practical skills you need as an entry-level lawyer.

 

In Australia, a Legal Admissions Board in each state or territory assesses students interested in becoming lawyers. These boards approve PLT course providers who help students to look for job placements based on the Legal Practice Experience they have gained.

 

Generally, the Legal Practice Experience lasts up to 80 days. A lawyer with at least three years of experience in the legal field is supervising this program. You can complete the GDLP in as little as six months and even study the program online.

 

Below are a few other ways to complete your Practical Legal Training:

 

  • Clerkship: This takes at least one year to complete and requires an individual to get a legal job.

 

  • A Certification via Supervised Workplace Training: This option takes around one year to complete and is only available for aspiring lawyers living in Victoria and Queensland.

 

Note: Having a law degree from a country other than Australia does not exclude you from enrolling in a PLT program. Also, check with the relevant Law School or college to see whether your degree is acceptable.

 

 

Step 3: Seek Admission To Legal Practice

 

After completing the required Practical Legal Training, you can seek admission to legal practice through the Admissions Authority in your relevant state or territory within five years of graduation. To be eligible, you must satisfy the requirements presented by the legal board.

 

If you have any admissions queries, you must contact the Admissions Authority of the place where you wish to practice. The admission authorities of different states and territories in Australia are as follows:

 

 

 

Step 4: Get a Practising Certificate

 

Once you have completed 18 to 24 months of supervised practice, you can apply for a Practising Certificate through the local Law Society. After becoming a practising lawyer, you can choose to work as a Solicitor or further pursue education to become a barrister.

 

At this stage, several lawyers decide to take up an LLM degree to further specialize in law.

 

Different bodies issue practising certificates in various jurisdictions. To get detailed information about how to apply for a practising certificate in a specific territory or state of Australia, get in touch with the relevant authority mentioned below:

 

 

 

5. Lawyer Courses In Australia

 

The Bachelor of Laws is a professional law degree that gives you comprehensive knowledge of Australia's legal framework and fundamental legal principles.

 

It helps develop your theoretical and practical capabilities. It prepares you for a challenging yet fulfilling career as a legal practitioner.

 

  • Bachelor of Laws – RMIT University

  • Bachelor of Laws- The University of Victoria

  • Bachelor of Laws – UTS University

  • Bachelor Of Laws (Honours) – The University of Queensland

  • Bachelor's degree (honours) – Monash University

  • Bachelor of Laws – Curtin University

  • Bachelor of Laws (Honours) – QUT University

 

 

6. Areas Of Specialisation

 

Lawyers can specialise and pursue careers in diverse areas within law, such as:

 

  • Taxation

  • Criminal Defense

  • Civil Litigation

  • Patent litigation

  • Intellectual Property Rights

  • Human rights 

  • Corporate Practice

  • Property law

  • Estate Planning

  • Family law

  • Aviation Law

  • Labour and Employment Law

  • Environmental Law 

  • Energy Law 

  • Company Law 

  • Maritime Law 

  • Arbitration and Mediation 

  • Space Law 

  • Constitutional Law 

  • International Law 

  • Media and Entertainment Law

  • Sports Law, Technology Law 

  • Bankruptcy Law 

  • Consumer Protection Law 

  • Insurance Law 

  • Law of Tort 

  • Immigration Law

 

 

7. Working Conditions

 

Most lawyers work in private practice, either independently or in small teams, with other legal professionals in offices, courtrooms, or law libraries. Some even work in government entities or as in-house Counsel for a corporation.

 

They may regularly work with professionals and experts from other industries to prepare cases. Dealing with distressed clients and working long hours, including evenings and weekends, is expected in the profession.

 

 

8. What Tools And Technologies Do Lawyers Use?

 

Lawyers refer to extensive law libraries comprising detailed records of past cases and the verdicts to strengthen their cases.

 

Besides the reference material, they also use standard office equipment, including photocopiers, faxes, computers, and Dictaphones, to perform their job.

 

 

9. Lawyer Career Path In Australia

 

According to Glassdoor, the career progression ladder for qualified lawyers is as follows:

 

  • Attorney

  • Attorney / Associate Attorney / Assistant Attorney

  • Senior Attorney / Attorney III, Mid-level Attorney

  • Attorney Manager

  • Attorney IV / Staff Attorney, Lead Attorney

  • Senior Manager of Legal

  • Principal Attorney

  • Associate Director of Legal

  • Director of Legal

  • Senior Director of Legal

  • Senior Vice President of Legal

 

 

10. Where Do Lawyers Work In Australia?

 

The following industries have tremendous demand for law graduates:

 

  • Banking and Finance 

  • Businesses/ Commercial legal sector

  • Corporations and unions

  • Litigation

  • Private Equity

  • Property 

  • Government sector/legal aid

  • Tax 

  • Community law/NGOs

  • Workplace relations

  • Academia

  • Politics

  • Business

  • Media

 

 

As a graduate of a law degree, you can even work outside the legal profession as a business strategist, entrepreneur, corporate counsel, or government policy advisor.

 

 

11. The Most Common Lawyer Jobs In Australia

 

The following are the typical lawyer's job roles advertised on popular sites, including Glassdoor:

 

  • Trainee Solicitor / Solicitor

  • Barristers and public prosecutors

  • Lawyer

  • Junior / Intermediate Lawyer

  • Associate Lawyer 

  • Client Intake Lawyer

  • Regional Lawyer

  • In-house and Corporate lawyers

  • Health and Aged Care Lawyer

  • Policy Analysts and Advisers in the government

  • Family lawyer

  • Legal Officer / Counsellor / Advisor

  • Human rights Advocate / Human rights Lawyer

  • Infrastructure Projects Lawyer

  • Employment lawyer

  • Judges, Judge's Associate 

  • Migration Agent / Immigration Lawyer

  • Community laws officer (in community legal centres to provide legal access to disadvantaged groups)

  • Managing Lawyer

  • Negotiation and dispute resolution specialist

  • Criminal lawyer

  • Mining lawyer

  • Compliance manager

  • Social and government researcher

  • Company Secretary

  • Human Rights NGO adviser

  • Management consultants

  • Merchant bankers

  • Entrepreneurs

  • Parliamentarians

 

 

12. How Much Does A Lawyer Earn In Australia?

 

The average salary for a lawyer is AU$70,853 per year, depending on the sector and seniority level. Lawyers who work for law firms and other business establishments earn more than lawyers practising independently.

 

Besides the base pay, many firms also give bonuses to lawyers between 12% and 15%. The bonus amount depends on various factors such as:

 

  • Your performance

  • Your position and seniority in the role

  • The state of the job market. Lawyers tend to receive more bonuses when the firm has a talent shortage.

 

 

Salary Based on Experience

 

  • Entry-level (<1-year experience): AU$59,674 per year 

  • Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$68,115 per year 

  • Mid-career (5-9 years of experience): AU$96,991 per year

  • Experienced (10-19 years of experience): AU$125,268 per year 

  • In late career (20 years and above): AU$148,994 per year 

 

 

Highest Paying Locations for Lawyers in Australia

 

  • Sydney: $126,365 per year

  • Brisbane: $121,487 per year

  • Thursday Island: $117,217 per year

  • Sydney: $113,979 per year

  • Melbourne: $110,302 per year

  • Darwin: $109,386 per year

  • Melbourne: $104,526 per year

  • Parramatta: $102,923 per year

  • Canberra: $102,575 per year

 

 

13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

 

How To Become a Lawyer in Australia with A Foreign Degree?

 

A lawyer with a law degree outside Australia who wants to practice law in Australia must apply to the relevant admissions authority. They are assessing whether the overseas legal qualification is equivalent to that of a local applicant in Australia.

 

This assessment will further help to determine the additional subjects an applicant needs to pursue and study to be eligible to practice law in Australia.

 

Foreign lawyers should check the below links to understand state-wise assessment of overseas qualifications to work in Australia:

 

 

 

Law Courses For Overseas-Qualified-Lawyers:

 

  • Juris Doctor - UTS

  • Juris Doctor Graduate Certificate in Professional Legal Practice, City campus - UTS

  • Graduate Certificate in Australian Law - UTS

  • Graduate Certificate in Professional Legal Practice - UTS

  • Master of Legal Studies - UTS

 

 

How To Become a Lawyer in Australia for International Students?

 

Obtaining a practising certificate is a prerequisite to getting admission to the legal profession.

 

Top universities offering "Bachelors of Laws" for overseas students in Australia:

 

  • Bachelor of Laws - RMIT University

  • Bachelor of Laws - Victoria University

  • Bachelor of Laws Bachelor of International Studies - UTS

 

 

How Hard Is it to Become a Lawyer in Australia?

 

The process of becoming a lawyer in Australia is lengthy but doable. Becoming a practising lawyer takes 5 to 6 years of education and training.

 

Most of the Australian universities have accredited law schools. You must complete a four-year undergraduate degree and apply to the local Law Society for a Practising Certificate.

 

Next, you must join a law firm and complete 18 to 24 months of supervised practice. After earning your law or J.D. degree, you go through GDLP and get admitted to the bar to work as a legal practitioner.

 

All aspiring lawyers must ensure they graduate with a law degree, master of law, or J.D. degree from a reputable university. It is because each law firm looks at the university you studied and your grades before shortlisting you for an interview.

 

 

How Many Years Does it Take to Become a Lawyer in Australia?

 

Once you decide to become a lawyer, the first question that usually comes to your mind is how many years it will take to benefit from your law education. To become a lawyer in Australia, you have to get through the following stages:

 

  • Complete your studies: You can complete an undergraduate law degree (LLB), which takes around four years. However, if you already have an undergraduate degree in any subject, you can pursue three years JD (Juris Doctor).

 

  • Undertake Practical Legal Training (PLT): The PLT improves your practical skills and takes at least six months to complete. After completing PLT, you must undertake legal practice within five years of graduation. It will allow you to get a job in the legal field.

 

  • Get a Practicing Certificate: You will only be eligible to get a practising certificate if you have worked for around 18 to 24 months under the supervision of a practising lawyer. This certificate enables you to practice as a solicitor in the state of your choice.

 

Becoming a lawyer in Australia takes almost six years of education and practice.

 

Note: If you want to be a barrister, you must first take and pass the bar exam and get admission into the Bar Readers' Course.

 

 

What High School Subjects are Best for Law in Australia?

 

Some of the essential high school subjects for future lawyers are:

 

  • English

  • Public speaking

  • Social studies

  • Science

  • Mathematics

 

 

What Education Do You Need To Be a Lawyer in Australia?

 

To become a lawyer in Australia, you need to study for a law degree in any of the following ways:

 

  • Complete your Year 12 education or an equivalent qualification and undertake an undergraduate Bachelor of Laws degree. Some universities, like the University of Melbourne, offer this degree as a 3-year single degree course. In contrast, other universities like the University of Sydney offer it as a 5-year double degree. 

 

  • If you already have a bachelor's degree in another discipline, consider earning a postgraduate Juris Doctor degree. You can complete this course in four years part-time or three years if you fast-track it.

 

 

What is The Fastest Way to Become a Lawyer in Australia?

 

There is no shortcut or fastest way to become a professional lawyer in Australia. It is mandatory to complete all the below stages to practice as a lawyer in all states and territories of Australia:

 

  • Stage 1: Graduate with an "eligible law degree" 

  • Stage 2: Undertake a Practical Legal Training program (of up to 80 days). Alternatively, complete a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice.

  • Stage 3: Show yourself as "fit and proper" and meet the other eligibility criteria for admission to the Supreme Court as a legal practitioner.

  • Stage 4: Complete 18 to 24 months of supervised practice at a law firm to be eligible to apply for a Practising Certificate from your local Law Society and be able to practice law.

 

  • Junior lawyers who have completed PLT must undergo at least two years of full-time equivalent legal practice.

 

  • Junior lawyers who have completed the one-year supervised traineeship scheme should undergo 18 months of supervised legal practice.

 

 

Is a Law Career Worth It in Australia?

 

Due to the solid demand for regulatory work, banking and finance, mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate work, the need for law services is vital in Australia. 

 

From traditional law careers and working in-house to working for not-for-profit organisations and in government departments, law graduates will find diverse career options after law school.

 

Furthermore, the skills you learn while studying a law course, such as critical thinking skills, impeccable attention to detail, and substantial investigative skills, are helpful in various other careers outside the law field, such as:

 

 

As the demand for lawyers increases with the emergence of new areas, a career in law is a stable and future-proof option in Australia.

 

 

What is the Least Stressful Type of Law to Practice?

 

Not all law practices involve late nights and weekend work; there are specific fields that are less stressful and time-consuming. While you may not earn that big, it is less hectic and doesn't consume your personal life.

 

  • Real estate law

  • Intellectual property law

  • Family law

  • Government lawyers

  • Working In-House

 

 

What Lawyers Are Most in Demand in Australia?

 

As more and more individuals and businesses across all industries require legal assistance, the country expects robust future growth for barristers and solicitors in the coming years.

 

Though lawyers are in high demand in most practice areas, Corporate and transaction work is in higher demand due to Australia's highly active mergers and acquisitions market.

 

 

Which Field Lawyer Earns The Most?

 

Not all law practices give high returns. There are a handful of high-earning fields to practice as a lawyer.

 

However, you should note that entry to the below-law areas is incredibly tough. Early-career lawyers must have solid grades from a top school and various years of experience to earn a role in these fields.

 

  • Corporate Lawyer 

  • Intellectual Property

  • Tax Lawyers 

  • Criminal Defense Lawyers 

  • Litigation Lawyers

  • Cyber Lawyers 

  • Human Rights Lawyers 

 

Besides working in these fields, your years of hard work, determination, discipline, patience, and education influence your earning capacity in law. Moreover, working in top-notch law firms specialising in law areas can also give high salaries to young law graduates.

 

 

What is The Highest Position in Law in Australia?

 

Your career ladder as a lawyer depends on the law firm you join. However, you can start as a clerk while studying and become a Lawyer after graduation.

 

With some experience as a lawyer, you can progress to an Associate and later Senior associate role. The highest position in law is Partner or Director, which you can attain after working for 10 to 15 years in law.

 

Here is the complete career ladder for a lawyer in Australia:

 

  • Clerk (<1 year in the role)

  • Graduate Lawyer (1-3 years of experience)

  • Associate (3-5 years of experience)

  • Senior Associate (5-7 years of experience)

  • Special Counsel (7-10 years of experience)

  • Partner / Director (10-15 years of experience)

 

 

What Is The Lowest Position of a Lawyer?

 

Clerk (<1 year in the role) is an internship at a commercial law firm where you gain hands-on experience while studying for a law degree.

 

Most firms advertise clerk vacancies as "vacation clerks," summer clerks," "winter clerks," or "seasonal clerks" during students' summer and winter holidays. They hire graduate lawyers from the pool of clerks. They may offer full-time offers to deserving ones after completing the internship.

 

 

What's The Easiest Law Degree To Get?

 

You must complete a 3-year Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree to get started in a law profession.

 

 

How Long is a Law School in Australia?

 

Depending on your learning route, it may take you six years to get qualified for a Lawyer role in Australia:

 

  • Three years Bachelor's degree + 3 years Juris Doctor (Melbourne JD (Juris Doctor) graduate course.)

 

If you already have a bachelor's degree, completing a J.D. course will take three years. However, if you are a high school pass-outs, it will take 6 years to become qualified to practice as a lawyer in Australia.

 

 

How Do You Get Into Law School in Australia?   

 

 

For Bachelor of Laws:

 

 

For the J.D. program – Complete a bachelor's degree after high school with the equivalent of a GPA of at least 5.5 (out of 7.0) across all completed tertiary studies. 

 

 

How To Become a Lawyer in NSW?

 

To become a legal practitioner in NSW, you must complete an accredited program of PLT after finishing your LLB or J.D. degree to receive admission as a legal practitioner.

 

You must also satisfy the Legal Profession Admission Board requirements to become a legal practitioner in New South Wales.

 

 

How To Become a Lawyer in QLD?

 

You need to complete the below steps to practice as a solicitor in Queensland:

 

  1. Complete an approved law degree.

  2. Complete a supervised traineeship or an approved practical legal training course. 

  3. Apply for getting admission to the Roll of Lawyers

  4. Apply for a practising certificate to practice law in Queensland.

 

 

How To Become a lawyer in Western Australia?

   

You must usually study for a law degree to become a lawyer in Western Australia.

 

You must complete Practical Legal Training as specified by the Legal Practice Board of Western Australia to work as a lawyer in the state. Next, apply to the Supreme Court for admission as a lawyer.

 

 

How to Become a Lawyer in Victoria?

 

You must get admitted to practice by the state's Supreme Court and obtain a practising certificate issued by the local legal professional body to practice as a lawyer in Australia.

 

Here are the steps to practising law in Victoria:

 

  1. Complete an undergraduate qualification in law.

  2. Complete 3–4-year JD program

  3. Complete supervised workplace training of 1-year with a law firm. Alternatively, complete 6-12 months of Practical Legal Training with a PLT provider.  

  4. Complete 18-24 months of supervised legal practice to get a Practising certificate.         

 

 

13. Conclusion

 

Now that you know everything about becoming a lawyer in Australia, you are ready to get qualified and get the experience of a lifetime.

 

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