Roadmap to Becoming a Lawyer in Australia
Becoming a lawyer takes a lot of work, and some could see it as intimidating when looking from the ground up. Knowing what your road to practising law looks like may ease some of that uncertainty.
Complete a Juris Doctor (JD) or Bachelor of Law (LLB) The most obvious step in becoming certified to practise is to obtain a degree in the field you want your career in. In Australia, if you don’t already have an undergraduate degree, then you’ll want to get an LLB. Contrarily, if you already have an undergraduate degree (no matter what the degree may be in), you’ll have to get your JD. Whichever course you take will need to be recognised by the Law Society in the state or territory you’ll be practising in, and it must cover the Priestly 11 —the eleven basic areas of legal knowledge required for practising lawyers in Australia. These degrees can take three or four years to complete.
Complete Practical Legal Training Once you’ve got your degree, you’ll have to be assessed by the Legal Admissions Board in the state or territory you’ll be practising in. The board will have a list of approved Practical Legal Training (PLT) course providers that will get you on track toward earning the Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice. They will also assist in finding work placement so the Legal Practise Experience can be completed; this can take up to 80 days under the supervision of a lawyer with at least three years of experience. Completing your PLT can take as little as six months.
Admission to Legal Practise With your PLT done, you’ll have up to five years to apply to the Admissions Authority in the state or territory you’ll be practising in. You must apply at least four weeks before the admissions filing date to be considered. Read up on what is expected of you: some states will require a legal counsel to move you through admission, while others will let you represent yourself.
Practising Certificate After getting a job and completing 18 to 24 months of supervised legal practise, you can apply to the local Law Society for a Practising Certificate. With the certificate, you can decide whether to remain a Solicitor or move forward to become a Barrister. Many lawyers continue their study and get an LLM to specialise themselves further.
Becoming a Barrister Should you not wish to remain a Solicitor, you can move forward and become a Barrister instead, allowing you to settle disputes, be a mediator, or represent a client in court. There is a national Bar Association, but each state or territory has its own Bar authority as well. To go this route, you’ll have to take the Bar exam and pass the Bar Readers’ Course.