Australia has an excellent reputation for Law and attracts students from across the globe. However, if you’re planning on studying law in Australia, you’ll need to know how the system works. We created this guide to outline the steps you’ll need to take to become a lawyer...
If you choose to study Law in Australia, you will generally have to practice your profession in the state or territory you qualified in. Although it is possible to transfer your skills to other countries or regions, you will likely have to take more qualifications in and training in order to do so. Additionally, if you plan on practicing in Australia, you will want to check your eligibility for residency after you graduate.
Take a Law Degree
Unlike some countries, in Australia, you can study law from undergraduate level. A Bachelor’s of Law, also known as an LLB, is on offer at a few universities. Those students who already have an undergraduate degree in another field can consider taking a Juris Doctor (JD) instead. Both the LLB and JD take 3-4 years to complete depending on the programme and institution. Regardless of which course you take, you will need to study the 'Priestley 11' subjects. These are the core areas in which all Australian lawyers must train.
Some universities will offer a combined LLB course, which you can take over a longer period of time, usually 5 years. This gives you the chance to study law in addition to another subject, such as business, which can broaden your knowledge into a specific area.
In total, there are 38 law schools in Australia. The types of degrees on offer vary between institutions, and only some of them offer Bachelor of Laws degrees; the rest offer combined LLB or JD programmes. Universities with a standalone LLB in law include:
- Macquarie University
- Bond University
- Victoria University
- University of Technology, Sydney
- University of New England
Tuition fees and entry requirements vary between institutions, so you should check the specifics of those you’re interested in applying to. Our Applying to Study in Australia guide has further information on admissions procedures.
Practical legal training
Even after completing an LLB or JD degree in law, there’s still a long way to go before you can become a practising solicitor or barrister. Each state in Australia has a Legal Admissions Board, which is responsible for admitting new lawyers. In order to be accepted, you’ll need to complete practical legal training in the state/territory you wish to practice in. There are two ways you can do so:
- Complete a board-accredited Practical Legal Training course, usually over a period of 6-12 months. These are known as Graduate Diplomas of Legal Practice. Alternatively, you could take a Master of Laws degree.
- Undergo a Supervised Workplace Training plan as accredited by the admissions board. This must be at least 12 months in length.
The exact requirements differ between states/territories, so be sure to check the finer details of your chosen location.
Admission to legal practice
Once you’ve completed your practical training, you’ll be eligible to apply to the Legal Admissions Board in the territory or state you wish to work in. You’ll need to do this within five years of graduating, and you’ll have to disclose any legal issues you may have had in the past. The admissions board for the region needs to see that you’re a ‘fit and proper’ person to practice law. The requirements to prove this differ somewhat, so it’s advisable to check with the specific board you’re applying to. Providing you meet these requirements, you’ll be admitted to the legal practice.
After you’ve worked in a supervised position for 18-24 months, you’ll be eligible to apply for a Practising Certificate. This allows you to work as a fully-fledged solicitor and also broadens your options for further study. If you wish to become a barrister, you can start thinking about taking an LLM (Master’s of Law) qualification and joining the legal Bar authority in your chosen region/territory.
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