If you are looking for a rewarding profession in Australia, you will find that studying and practising law will lead to excellent opportunities and take you wherever you want to go.
While having a law degree will definitely open up challenging and exciting legal opportunities as a barrister or a solicitor, you can also explore other career options in almost any sector of the industry you can think of.
Over the years, law graduates in Australia have made successful careers in fields such as banking and finance, business management, government and politics, and more. Hence, if you are determined to pursue a career in law, read the article below to know everything about how to become a lawyer in Australia and fulfil your dreams.
1. The Role of 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 greatly, depending on different legal jurisdictions.
In a nutshell, a lawyer's job is to listen to a client's problem carefully, discuss their options, give them legal advice, take note of how they want to proceed further and help them understand how the law applies to their case.
2. Major 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 law, family law, commercial law, 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 different 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.
Meticulous time-keeping and keeping files up to date.
3. 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
The first step to becoming a lawyer in Australia is to undertake a Bachelors of Law (LLB) or a Juris Doctor (JD) postgraduate degree, recognised by the Law Society of the territory or state where you choose to practise.
An LLB degree is appropriate for those students who do not possess any undergraduate degree. Whereas, JD can be pursued by students who have already completed an undergraduate degree in any subject.
No matter which law school you are in, you are required to successfully 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
Federal and State Constitutional law
Criminal Law and Procedural Laws
Equity (including trusts)
The Law of Evidence
Civil Dispute Resolution
Ethics and Professional Responsibility
In addition to these fundamental subjects, law schools may offer a wide variety of elective courses as well as some compulsory subjects. Both LLB and JD are three to four years long and will prepare you to take the next step towards becoming a lawyer.
If you are searching for the top law schools in Australia, you must definitely check out the following:
Step 2: Undertake the Practical Legal Training (PLT) Program
After completing your law degree, you must undertake a Practical Legal Training (PLT) program or Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (GDLP), particularly designed to enhance the everyday practical skills that you will require as an entry-level lawyer.
In Australia, there is a Legal Admissions Board in each state or territory that 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 and is supervised by a lawyer with at least three years of experience in the legal field. All in all, you can complete the GDLP in as little as six months, and you can 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.
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 into a PLT program. Also, you should check with the relevant Law School or college to see whether your degree is acceptable or not.
Step 3: Seek Admission to Legal Practice
Once you complete 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 queries regarding admissions, you must get in touch with the Admissions Authority of the place where you wish to practice. The admission authorities of different states and territories in Australia are as follows:
Australian Capital Territory: Legal Practitioners Admission Board
Western Australia: Legal Practice Board of Western Australia
South Australia: South Australian Board of Examiners
Northern Territory: The Legal Practitioners' Admission Board
Victoria: Victorian Legal Admissions Board
Tasmania: Legal Profession Board of Tasmania
New South Wales: Legal Profession Admission Board
Queensland: Legal Practitioners Admissions Board
Step 4: Get a Practising Certificate
Once you have completed 18 to 24 months of practice under supervision, you can then 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.
It is mostly at this stage that several lawyers decide to take up an LLM degree to further specialise in the field of law.
Practising certificates are issued by different bodies in different 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:
Australian Capital Territory Bar Association (barristers)
Australian Capital Territory Law Society (solicitors)
Bar Association of Queensland (barristers)
Queensland Law Society (solicitors)
Law Society of South Australia (solicitors and/or barristers)
Law Society Northern Territory (solicitors and/or barristers)
Law Society of Tasmania (solicitors and/or barristers)
New South Wales Bar Association (barristers)
Law Society of New South Wales (solicitors)
Legal Practice Board of Western Australia (solicitors and/or barristers)
Victorian Legal Services Board (solicitors and/or barrister)
4. Top Skills Required to be a Lawyer in Australia
In order to become a successful lawyer in Australia, a candidate must possess certain attractive and competitive legal skills.
Below is a list of the most common skills required to become a lawyer in Australia:
It is definitely a lot better to work with a client whom you believe is innocent. However, in the end, it is entirely up to you whom you want to work with. A good sense of right and wrong is needed when deciding who to partner with and why.
5. How to Become a Lawyer in Australia with a Foreign Degree?
Any lawyer who received his or her law degree or training outside Australia and who wishes to practice local law in Australia, must apply to the relevant admissions authority who will assess whether their overseas legal qualification is equivalent to that expected of a local applicant in Australia or not.
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.
6. How Long 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 will it take to get the benefit of your law education. To become a lawyer in Australia, you have to get through the following stages:
All in all, it takes almost 6 years of education and practice to become a lawyer in Australia.
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.
7. How Much Do Lawyers Earn in Australia?
The average annual lawyer salary in Australia is AUD 127,321, depending on the sector and seniority level. Generally, male lawyers earn up to an average of AUD 148,487. Whereas, female lawyers earn an average salary of AUD 112,731.
Lawyers who work for law firms and other business establishments usually earn more than the lawyers practising independently.
Now that you know everything about how to become a lawyer in Australia, you are ready to get qualified as a lawyer and get the experience of a lifetime.
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