How To Become A Lawyer In Australia: A Complete Guide

International students want to know what does it take to become a lawyer in Australia.

 

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:

 

  1. Law of Contracts

  2. Property Law

  3. Company law

  4. Federal and State Constitutional law

  5. Criminal Law and Procedural Laws

  6. Torts

  7. Administrative law

  8. Equity (including trusts)

  9. The Law of Evidence

  10. Civil Dispute Resolution

  11. 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:

 

 

 

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:

 

 


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:
 

 

  • Analytical Skills: We all know that the main role of a lawyer is to help their clients resolve problems. Hence, they must possess analytical or evaluative skills to determine relevant facts, analyse 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. This helps the lawyer understand every aspect and angle of the case and establish a sense of 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 need to be specific and precise when preparing documents, like trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and other legal documents. This requires them to have excellent writing skills so that they can express their legal arguments well and draft effective and persuasive legal documents without making them too complex.

 

  • Public Speaking Skills: As a legal advisor, you are frequently required to address a gathering of professionals or convince the council or an adjudicator. Hence, it is essential for you to be well-spoken and expressive to keep your point forward and win against the opposing counsel.
  • A lawyer can improve his or her public speaking skills by practising the presentation in front of a mirror and watching inspiring talks and speeches to increase your 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. With exceptional research skills, a lawyer can successfully find and apply the laws and regulations applicable to a specific issue.

 

  • Judgement: 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 that must be addressed immediately. A quick and sensible judgment can help an attorney steer the case in client's favour.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 
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:

 

  • Complete your studies: You can undertake an undergraduate law degree (LLB), which takes around 4 years to complete. However, if you already have an undergraduate degree in any subject, you can choose to pursue JD (Juris Doctor), which might take almost 3 years to complete.

 

  • Undertake Practical Legal Training (PLT): The PLT improves your practical skills and takes at least 6 months to complete. After the completion of PLT, you are required to get admission to legal practice within 5 years of completing your graduation. This 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 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.

 

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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