Career Options for Lawyers Seeking a Change

There’s no doubt about it; becoming a lawyer is one of the most sought-after careers in the country. This, however, has also increased the number of firms that exist today. Oversaturation of the market is one of the biggest reasons why younger people with new law degrees tend to stray away from the industry after only practising a few years.  

There are also plenty of seasoned law professionals who may simply feel the time has come for a career change. This is when having a law degree can be incredibly beneficial. While law school is obviously tailored for those wishing to pursue a high-level career in law, it also prepares students for a number of non-law careers.

Those with degrees in law have proved themselves to be hard-working, industrious, and highly intelligent. Therefore, there are actually a variety of options available to them outside of the courtroom. The following list includes some of the more popular alternative careers for people with law degrees.

Journalism

Law students spend years writing essays explaining the ins and outs of a particular court case. This is exactly why journalism can be a great alternative career path for a person with a law degree. Not only are you already experienced in writing from a factual standpoint, but your credentials can actually help gain authority. Furthermore, lawyers are equipped with the right tools and mindsets to be skilled in performing research and investigations, the foundations of journalism. It can be a little difficult to start, but with enough practice and continual writings, you may be able to attract the attention of a professional publication.

Teaching

Perhaps you’ve enjoyed your time as a lawyer, however, you feel as though your career is stagnant. Would you like to learn more about law and teach others what you already know? Teaching is a wonderful alternative career for lawyers or newly graduated law students as it’s incredibly rewarding. Not only do you get to experience a new type of role, but you can also pass on your knowledge, experiences, and passion to the people that you teach. Inspiring and teaching a classroom filled with the next generation of lawyers can be exhilarating.

Project Manager

There’s a reason why so many companies choose to have someone such as a lawyer to lead their most important projects. Lawyers are focused, organized, and can see issues before they arise. If you like a real challenge and can work well with others, becoming a project manager is a great career path to follow.

Freelancer

Today you have multiple businesses out there who are eager to receive advice from a lawyer but don’t have the funds to keep a professional on retainer. Through the act of freelancing, you are able to provide these services on a one-off basis. You may also provide these companies with the ability to better understand the legal side of their business, thus building credibility for them. 

Becoming a Judge or Magistrate

Pursuing a career as a judge or magistrate offers tremendous opportunities for advancement. You can even specialise in the types of cases you’ll oversee by choosing civil, family, or criminal law. This overview provides a brief understanding of what it takes to become a judge and what your responsibilities will be in that position.

How Do You Become a Judge?

In order to qualify to become a judge or magistrate, you’ll need to have an education in law. Since becoming eligible to sit as a judge requires a thorough understanding of the practice of law, it makes sense that most judges first spend several years working as lawyers. Spending time working as a lawyer provides experience in developing another skill that’s essential to becoming a judge: communication skills. You should be able to express yourself coherently through oral speech and written text since your thoughts and decisions will affect the lives of the people in your court.

You would also have to develop an understanding of legal ethics. Your actions will affect people in significant ways, so you must exhibit a good moral character. People who are successful as judges have good characters, an understanding of common sense, and an ability to make decisions that are impartial and fair.

What Does a Judge or Magistrate Do?

It may seem like a judge, or a magistrate, doesn’t do much, but most people don’t see what goes on outside of the courtroom. Before they can make a decision on any plea, or motion, they must review the documents submitted in court by the lawyers. This involves reading each document, reviewing past cases that are similar, and reviewing the relevant laws. They can spend several hours doing legal research before making a final decision.

Even after a judge makes a decision and settles an issue in court, they still have work to perform. They must write a summation that describes their decision, including the factors that influenced that decision. This helps other judges and magistrates understand why that decision was made, so they can use the information to help them settle their own legal issues, appeal requests, etcetera.

A lawyer spends years in school and, even after they begin practising law, they still continue to learn about new cases and laws. The same dedication to work and learning is required by judges and magistrates. While this can be a rewarding career, allowing you an opportunity to help others, it also entails long hours of work and study.

Common Legal Mistakes to Avoid in Business

Operating a business is much more than simply making a transaction and telling the customer to have a great day. There is so much work that goes into creating a business that entrepreneurs and new business owners often primarily focus on getting their business off the ground. In doing so, however, many of the important legal aspects are overlooked or not considered with enough diligence.

Here are some of the most common legal mistakes businesses should avoid.

Refraining From Using a Lawyer

Many businesses, regardless of whether they’re established or just starting out, receive complaints but simply shrug them off. However, if a complaint becomes legal these businesses are left scrambling, and possibly not knowing what to do. Smaller businesses would rather represent themselves in court rather than hire a lawyer. This is most likely due to the business not having a big enough budget, which is understandable.

Businesses that are just starting out may not have the resources to feel comfortable retaining a lawyer. However, hiring a lawyer is recommended for all businesses. They have the knowledge and experience to handle legal issues if one ever arises. Even if your start-up is brand new and the budget is very small, consider networking so that you know who you can count on if or when legal counsel is ever required.

There Are No Terms and Conditions

When someone goes on a website, they will receive a notification about the “terms and conditions” of that company. It is a form of agreement that customers must abide by. This agreement is what lays out everything for what the products are intended for. Not having this agreement puts the entire business at risk of a lawsuit. If a new business is taken to court, it can hurt its reputation for the future.

Not Complying With Tax Laws

Some businesses may not want to report income and avoid filing their taxes. While some do this out of greed, others may feel like it’s too much of a hassle. However, there are a number of benefits when filing taxes on time.

It not only keeps the business out of trouble, but it also boosts their reputation. If maintaining business taxes seems overwhelming, simply hire a business lawyer and keep them on standby.

Making a legal mistake is not uncommon. It’s mostly due to businesses still being relatively new and needing to learn the ropes of entrepreneurship. However, when it comes down to it, legal mistakes are something to have an understanding of and avoid at all costs.

What to Expect in Australian Court Proceedings

If you’ve never been to court before, then attending a proceeding can be intimidating. That’s to be expected if you don’t know how, exactly, it works, especially if you’re a new migrant or just visiting. Knowing what to do and expect once you arrive could help ease your nerves and make the day go a lot smoother than anticipated.

What to Wear

It’s important to dress appropriately when going in for your court case. A suit and tie aren’t necessary, but you should aim to keep yourself neat and tidy when going in for your hearing. It could be several hours before you’re seen, so wearing comfortable clothes will make the wait more bearable.

Before the Hearing

Expect airport-style security when entering the courthouse. You and your belongings may be scanned before you’re allowed to enter the courthouse, and any prohibited items, like knives, will be confiscated. Once inside, you’ll need to find the courtroom your hearing will be taking place in. A list should be printed and displayed in the foyer and will have your case name and room number. If you can’t find the room, approach a court officer to ask for directions. Court officers wear either a red badge or a uniform and assist with the case.

Once you get to the appropriate courtroom, let the court officer there know you’ve arrived so you can be told where to wait for your case to be called. If you have a lawyer representing you during the hearing, find where they are and discuss where you’ll be waiting instead. The judicial officer will approach your lawyer at the bar table when your case is ready to be heard, or you will be called by the court officer to speak to the judicial officer if representing yourself. If you plan to leave the area, notify a court officer so your case isn’t heard without you being there.

During the Hearing

Courts have a formality to them. Some people may bow when they enter or leave the courtroom as a show of respect to the court, but bowing isn’t a requirement of anyone. While in the room, note the judge, who’s dressed in a red, black, or purple robe with a traditional wig, and the magistrate, dressed in black robes but no wig. 

Turn off your cell phone and sit quietly while in the courtroom, and do not interrupt the proceedings for whatever reason. Do not eat or drink, take photographs, or make audio or video recordings, and do not approach or speak with any member of the jury. Being caught with your phone out can lead the judicial officer to think you’re doing something illegal, which would result in you either being asked to leave the court or arrested. Video and audio recording is prohibited unless permission is gained beforehand. 

When your case is up, you’ll be led to either stand at a microphone or sit at the bar table. Stand when you speak and address the judge and magistrate as “your honour” when speaking to them.

Studying Law in Australia

Obtaining a law degree is a rather popular choice to make. By getting a law degree, students not only have a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities, but they gain self-confidence and exercise their critical thinking, persuasive reasoning, and analytical skills both in the classroom and out in the field. Practising law offers financial stability and a position to shape the world as well, so why not go into the field? There are so many high-class institutes to attend that give their students quality education, but no country can quite beat out what Australia has to offer law students.

Why Australia, though? Other than the fact that the University of Melbourne ranks at #6 on a list of top law schools in the world and the University of Sydney ranks at #12, many international students choose to pursue their education in Australia due to the high quality and internationally prized status of degrees obtained there. 

At the undergraduate level, students will receive a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) after completing a four-year curriculum, while those who get the Juris Doctor (JD) will get their degree after three years. Most students obtain an additional degree either during or before their law curriculum, and specialization programs are offered to students to give them a more well-rounded knowledge of national and international law.

Most schools with a law program have a core curriculum that teaches students concepts such as torts, criminal law, and property law. Electives dive further into learning about international law, jurisprudence, and all students have to satisfy a language requirement.

Upon graduation, students often go on to be barristers or solicitors for private practices or the government. Since most countries recognize the degree, they can take their knowledge outside of Australia if they wish. Since a law degree in Australia has such a broad focus on interdisciplinary skills, graduates don’t necessarily have to go into practising law like they studied, as they can also apply their degree to fields such as journalism, business, and technology.

As with any university or degree, students should consider costs when choosing their school. They should also consider the curriculum taught, the school’s reputation, its location and climate, the size of the student body, and the international student demographic for the school. 

Law students are always needed, and Australia provides high-quality education needed to succeed in the field. Some may ask, “Why attend law school in Australia?” when the question should be, why wouldn’t you?

Things to Consider When Choosing a Lawyer

The type of legal matter will determine what sort of lawyer you’ll need. However, there are many other aspects to take into consideration when choosing a lawyer. Finding the right legal counsel is important so it’s necessary to do research and ensure that it’s a good fit.


Here are a few factors to consider when choosing a lawyer.

Reputation

The reputation of a firm is something to pay attention to. A good firm will uphold a reputation for honesty not only among clients, but also its peers. It’s also important that the firm has strong drafting skills. Do your research and look for references so that you have an idea of the firm’s integrity.

Experience

It’s important to consider the experience of your representation. Not only should you consider the number of years that a lawyer or firm has been in practice, but also whether or not they have any reported decisions. While it’s important to settle when it makes sense, it’s necessary to prepare for trial when things can’t be settled outside of court. If your case ends up going to court you’ll want to feel confident in the abilities of your lawyers during a trial.

Partnerships

If you are an Australian who is facing legal action from somewhere outside of the country you’ll want to know whether or not the firm has any experience partnering with international, regional, or national firms. Furthermore, if they do have experience find out if the outcomes were successful in those cases. If a lawyer is going to be dealing with laws and lawyers from different countries then make sure that your case won’t be there first time getting that experience.

Results

Ask the firm to see a Case Study or Practice Area summaries so that you can see examples of their work. It’s not enough to seek a good lawyer, find a great one. The track record of the firm you choose should have fantastic results.

Practicality

Make sure that the lawyer or firm understands your financial budget and will settle on a number that works for both of you. Avoid lawyers that make you believe that they’re looking to make a quick buck or aren’t being practical on how they are approaching your case.

Value

Value can go hand in hand with practicality. Make sure that you know what you will be expected to pay for the legal services. Develop a clear understanding of the contract and if you are paying on contingency then know the percentage that you’ll expect whether or case goes to court or settles.

Sometimes it can be difficult to draw a line between personal and business legal interests. That makes it all the more important to have a lawyer with the right experience and confidence to use their abilities to work towards getting you the results you need. It is extremely important to understand the legal position that you are in when choosing a lawyer to represent you.

Famous Australian Court Cases

The similarity in many historic or famous court cases is that a law has been interpreted differently than ever before. These cases can influence future cases of the same nature and stir up a lot of controversy. 

Here is a breakdown of a few of the most famous cases in Australian history.

Chamberlain vs. the Queen

In 1984 this murder trial was widely broadcast and the public was torn. The case was centred on the death of an infant that died while camping with her family on holiday. The prosecution’s claim was that the baby was murdered by her mother, while the defence argued that she was actually killed by a dingo. At the time, the eyewitness testimony was not strong and backed the defendant. Furthermore, blood testing was questionable. However, at the end of the trial the mother, Chamberlain, was found guilty. This case is a good example of an inference of guilt because the prosecution’s case was circumstantial and depended on forensic evidence. Many believed the prosecution did not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In 1986 new evidence emerged, indicating that the infant may have actually been killed by a dingo. Chamberlain was released and eventually acquitted.

Mabo vs. Queensland

This court case took over a decade to reach a conclusion. The plaintiff’s were Meriam people, arguing that they were entitled to the Mer Islands and sought a possessory title because of long possession. Queensland government believed that when the Crown’s dominions settled into the territory the law of England became the law of that colony, giving the Crown ownership of the land. The high court’s final decision was that all laws imported from England to new land did not apply in situations where inhabitants were already present. This case rewrote the national law land and recognized Indigenous Australians as the original inhabitants. The ruling allowed Indigenous people all over Australia to claim traditional rights to land and overturned the doctrine of terra nullius.

Commonwealth vs. Tasmania

This case ended in an environmental victory and became a constitutional landmark. In 1983 the issue arose from the construction of a hydroelectric dam. Tasmanian government wanted the legal right to build the dam while the Federal government cited the World Heritage Convention as a reason to oppose construction. The Federal government won in High Court with a majority, 4:3 and preserved a large part of Australian wilderness.

These three examples are a few influential cases that showcase how law and the interpretation of it evolves. In most circumstances cases follow precedents, however, there are always exceptions.

How To Choose an Area of Law Practice

Law school does not always prepare students for an important factor in the success of their careers. Choosing an area of practice is something to take seriously and there are many things to consider. It’s imperative that you take the stability of the field, as well as your own personal ability and satisfaction into account when deciding on an area of practice.

Law is an incredibly competitive field so choosing and committing to an area of practice is best to accomplish while still in school. Employers are interested in candidates that have already shown interest in a specific field. Once you’ve decided on an area that best suits your personal agenda you can begin demonstrating interest by more focused classwork or an internship.

When a firm is hiring, employers are going to lean towards someone who has interest and knowledge of what it is they are hiring for. It can allow you to stand out from other interviewers that may not have a focus, and even assist you in narrowing down your job search. As a lawyer’s career lengthens it can be increasingly difficult to change fields. By committing to an area of practice early you can gain expertise that will help you to grow professionally.

Certain areas of law practice are a better fit for certain types of personality. There are three broad areas of law and each involves a unique skill-set. Take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses so you can better match yourself to a practice area. For instance, corporate lawyers, which include real estate and finance are best suited for someone interested in commercial affairs and business aspects. Corporate lawyers spend a lot of time drafting contracts and closing deals, so if that sounds like something you’d find enjoyable consider how well you work within a structure of interpreting contracts and paying close attention to details.

Furthermore, if you’ve despised legal writing and research classes then you may not want to be a litigator. Litigators often work at large firms or as trial attorneys and spend large amounts of time researching, writing, and thinking analytically. Many cases are fought and settled without ever moving to the courtroom, so someone in this field should enjoy developing advocacy and dealing with writing and discovery.

If, while in school, you’ve realized that you have a passion for a specific subject or issue then you may want to consider being a regulatory lawyer. These lawyers practise at all types of levels and there are many government agencies that employ them for things such as drug laws, energy, healthcare, or the environment. As a regulatory lawyer, you will handle administrative hearings, lend legal advice to companies, and interpret laws in regards to very specific schemes.


When it comes to choosing an area of law practice, make sure that you’re doing your research. Attend industry events, speak to lawyers in different fields, and read as much as you can. It is vital that you understand your goals by being aware of what different career paths and practice areas look like.

Types of Legal Technology on the Market

Technology is advancing at a rapidly increasing rate. In this day and age you’d be hard-pressed to find an industry that isn’t affected by the technology that’s been introduced to the market. Law is no exception to this movement. Like many other occupations, lawyers have seen a shift in pre-requisites for employment that involves increased digital literacy.


Law schools have begun offering electives that aim to improve students knowledge of technology to help instill an advanced technological aptitude for those entering the workforce. Legal teams can now automate many routine and repetitive tasks, allowing them more time to work on complex legal issues. It’s evident that legal technology has already become something of a necessity.


There are a plethora of products on the market that perform different and overlapping functions. It can be daunting for a company to choose the right product, and while many try to create their own tech, often times they end up buying something off the shelf.



There are six categories that can break up the broad legal technology market. 


Artificial Intelligence

This may be the most ambitious of all legal tech products on the market. AI products aim to summarize legal documents and answer questions more quickly than a human lawyer, and with more accuracy. This technology is sometimes perceived as a threat to the profession.


Contracts
The contracts software has been used to reduce the time it takes to draft, review and analyse legal contracts. It allows mark-ups of changes to be made easily and a few of the software companies even offer risk and compliance analysis in their product.


E-discovery

The e-discovery software simplifies the process of searching electronic data and deeming it useful as evidence in litigation.


Practice Management

This software is used as a management tool. The systems perform tasks such as time recording, billing, and contract management tools.



Document and Process Management
These systems can help your team to manage documentation. The software offers easy access and collaboration by providing generic legal documentation framework and includes security, e-signatures, and central cloud storage. 


Video Conferencing

While video conferencing isn’t specific to legal technology its use is becoming commonplace with lawyers working remotely. Reliable software for conferencing is vital to any legal team to uphold their arrangements.


When it comes to the use of these systems within a legal team it is often the juniors that use the technology the most. Since they have the most active role it’s a good idea to make them a part of the process when choosing which products to work with. Free demonstrations can be incredibly useful and there are seminars that take place often in Australia. 


If you are interested in the legal tech that a company offers, when you’re considering the agreement make sure that there is IT support included. It’s also important to go a step further and ensure that the support is in the right time zone and that they have good response times.


How to Hire a Lawyer for Your Small Business

When it comes to operating your own business it is important to build a great team that collectively has a broad skill-set. By surrounding yourself with people that you can trust and delegate work to, you will bring different perspectives and expertise to the organization. 


There are two obvious professionals that every business needs early on: a lawyer and an accountant. Both positions are important to the success of a business so it’s surprising that many employers neglect to hire a lawyer until it’s too late. While hiring an accountant is obvious, as you need someone to review numbers and prepare taxes, hiring a business lawyer is not always something that entrepreneurs consider early on.


However, lawyers provide assistance in almost every aspect of a business and are vital. Their roles include tasks such as tackling zoning compliance, trademark and copyright advice, and dealing with liability in general. It is never a good idea to wait until you’re being sued to seek legal counsel. At that point, the problem has already taken place and you’ll end up paying, whether in court costs or settlement fees to resolve the issue. However, often lawsuits can be entirely avoided when you have a lawyer on the payroll. 


One decision to make right away is whether you’re better off going with a small or big firm. Larger firms are typically more expensive however they do come with their advantages. For one, a larger firm holds much more clout than a solo practitioner. This can be beneficial in a number of ways, such as being introduced to financing sources or using their reference when you seek partnership arrangements. Furthermore, a large firm usually has every legal skill under the same roof so you’ll have any and all of your needs met.


The practice of law is becoming increasingly specialized. There are different types of lawyers, so it’s always better to hire someone that has experience with a number of skills. Ideally, you’re looking for a lawyer who can do the following things: prepare contracts that you’ll be sharing with clients, customers, and suppliers. Decide whether to organize your business as an LLC or corporation, provide provisions to your benefit when leasing commercial space, understand the tax consequences of basic business transactions, and have knowledge or connections with an intellectual property specialist.


When you are conducting interviews for a business lawyer it’s important to ask direct questions about their experience. It’s not possible for a lawyer to know everything about every area of law, however, if there’s something major outside of their scope of practice, a good lawyer should have working relationships with specialists who they can refer you to for different types of legal problems.


It’s also important that your lawyer is at least somewhat familiar with your industry; specifically the legal environment of your industry. It’s good to be wary of hiring a lawyer that represents more than one of your competitors. There is of course, a legal code of ethics, however, the last thing you want is sensitive information accidentally leaked to a competitor.


While you are conducting the interview try to get a feel of what type of lawyer you’re speaking with. Every firm employs lawyers that do one of three things: bring in new clients, make sure the existing ones are happy, and actually do the clients work. If you sense that you’re not talking to the lawyer that will actually be doing your work then don’t hesitate to ask to meet that person. You want to be sure that the lawyer providing their services is someone you trust and feel comfortable with.


During the first few years of business you’ll probably be visiting your lawyer’s office frequently so choose one that is conveniently located. Make sure that the person you hire can communicate well. A good business lawyer will outline all of your available options and point you in the direction of what the situation normally calls for. You want to like the person you hire because you’ll have to be comfortable enough to communicate openly. To be happy with your decisions make sure that the person possesses thoroughness, attention to detail, intelligence, and a willingness to work hard and at the end of the day, follow your instincts.