How To Become A Lawyer In Australia (2024)
Becoming a lawyer in Australia is a journey that combines rigorous academic preparation with practical training and a commitment to upholding the principles of justice. Lawyers play a pivotal role in society, offering legal guidance, representing clients, and contributing to the administration of the law. To embark on this fulfilling career path in the Land Down Under, individuals must follow a structured process that encompasses education, specialized training, and the development of essential skills.
In this guide, we will outline the step-by-step roadmap to becoming a lawyer in Australia, providing insights into the various educational options, the core subjects you must master, and the practical experience you need to navigate the complex and ever-evolving legal landscape. Whether you’re considering a future in litigation, corporate law, human rights, or any other legal specialty, understanding the requirements and milestones along the way is essential to your success in the legal profession in Australia.
What is a lawyer?
A lawyer is a professional who provides legal advice and representation to individuals and businesses. Lawyers have a deep understanding of the law and are able to apply it to real-world situations. They can help their clients with a wide range of legal matters, including:
- Family law
- Criminal law
- Business law
- Estate planning
- Intellectual property
What are the different types of lawyers?
There are many different types of lawyers, each with their own area of expertise. Some of the most common types of lawyers include:
- Solicitors: Solicitors provide legal advice and representation to clients in a wide range of matters, including family law, property law, and commercial law.
- Barristers: Barristers represent clients in court and provide specialist legal advice on complex legal issues.
- In-house lawyers: In-house lawyers work for a particular company or organization and provide legal advice on all aspects of the company’s business.
- Public interest lawyers: Public interest lawyers work for non-profit organizations and government agencies to advocate for social justice and the public good.
Why become a lawyer?
There are many reasons why people choose to become lawyers. Some people are motivated by a desire to help others and make a difference in the world. Others are attracted to the challenge of complex legal problems and the opportunity to use their skills to make a real impact. Becoming a lawyer can be a rewarding career, both financially and personally. Lawyers play an important role in society and have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of their clients.
What are the requirements to become a lawyer in Australia?
To become a lawyer in Australia, you must:
- Complete an accredited law degree from an Australian university.
- Complete Practical Legal Training (PLT), a supervised training program that gives you the opportunity to learn about the practical aspects of law.
- Be admitted to the legal profession by the Legal Practitioners Admission Board (LPAB) in the state or territory where you wish to practice.
- Obtain a practicing certificate from the relevant law society in the state or territory where you wish to practice.
How To Become A Lawyer in Australia (2024)
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to become a lawyer in Australia.
Step 1: Choose Your Educational Path
An accredited law degree is a law degree that has been recognized by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) as meeting the required standards for quality and rigor. ASQA is the national government agency responsible for accrediting all vocational education and training (VET) providers in Australia, including law schools.
To be accredited, a law school must demonstrate that its curriculum, teaching staff, and facilities meet the high standards set by ASQA. This ensures that graduates of accredited law schools have the knowledge and skills necessary to practice law in Australia.
In Australia, there are two primary options for obtaining a law degree:
- Undergraduate Degree in Law (LLB): This is a four-year undergraduate program that provides a comprehensive foundation in legal studies. It is suitable for students who have completed their high school education and want to pursue a career in law.
- Postgraduate Degree in Law (Juris Doctor – J.D.): The J.D. program is designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a different field. It offers an intensive and specialized study of law.
Step 2: Complete the “Priestly 11” Subjects
During your studies, you will need to complete the “Priestly 11” core law subjects. These subjects are essential for any aspiring lawyer and cover fundamental areas of law such as contract law, criminal law, constitutional law, property law, and administrative law, among others.
Step 3: Choose Elective Courses
In addition to the core subjects, you can choose elective courses that align with your interests and career goals. Elective courses cover a wide range of topics, including international law, human rights law, commercial law, and environmental law.
Step 4: Complete Compulsory Subjects
You will also be required to complete certain compulsory subjects that cover essential skills like legal research, legal writing, and legal ethics. The specific compulsory subjects may vary depending on the program and university you attend.
Step 5: Practical Legal Training (PLT)
After obtaining your law degree, you must undertake Practical Legal Training (PLT) to gain practical skills and experience in the legal profession. There are two main pathways for completing PLT:
- PLT Program: This structured training program combines practical work experience with theoretical learning. It involves supervised legal work under the guidance of experienced legal practitioners.
- Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (GDLP): This is a postgraduate qualification specifically designed to provide practical legal training. It focuses solely on developing the practical skills required for legal practice.
Step 6: Gain Practical Experience
During your PLT program or GDLP, you’ll have opportunities to gain practical experience in the legal field. This can include job placements, clerkships, or supervised workplace training. These experiences allow you to apply your knowledge to real legal scenarios and learn from experienced professionals.
Step 7: State-Specific Examination
Upon completing your PLT or GDLP, you’ll need to pass a state-specific examination to become registered as a legal practitioner. The content and format of the examination vary depending on the state or territory in which you wish to practice law.
Step 8: Develop Essential Skills
As you progress through your legal education and career, it’s crucial to develop essential skills such as analytical thinking, effective communication, research abilities, and strong moral ethics. These skills will be critical to your success as a lawyer in Australia.
Step 9: Choose a Reputable Law School
Consider attending esteemed law schools in Australia, such as the University of Sydney Law School, University of Melbourne Law School, University of Western Australia Law School, or the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Faculty of Law, to receive high-quality legal education and lay a solid foundation for your legal career.
Top Popular Law Schools in Australia
There are 39 accredited law schools in Australia, located in all six states and two territories. Some of the most well-known law schools in Australia include:
- University of Melbourne
- University of Sydney
- Australian National University
- University of New South Wales
- University of Queensland
- Monash University
- University of Western Australia
- University of Adelaide
What subjects do I need to study?
The core subjects of a law degree in Australia typically include:
- Constitutional law
- Criminal law
- Contract law
- Torts law
- Property law
- Evidence law
- Civil procedure
- Administrative law
- Professional responsibility
How long does it take to complete a law degree?
A law degree in Australia typically takes four years to complete. However, some students may choose to complete a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, which is a three-year postgraduate degree for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline.
Career Prospects for Lawyers in Australia
The career prospects for lawyers in Australia are generally good. The legal profession is growing, and there is a high demand for qualified lawyers in a variety of areas. Lawyers can work in private practice, government, academia, and non-profit organizations.
According to the Job Outlook website, the employment of lawyers is expected to grow 10% faster than the average occupation over the next five years. This growth is due to a number of factors, including:
- The increasing complexity of the law
- The growing population and economy
- The increasing need for specialized legal services
Some of the most in-demand areas of law in Australia include:
- Commercial law
- Corporate law
- Family law
- Property law
- Criminal law
- Environmental law
- Intellectual property law
- Technology law
Lawyers can also work in a variety of other areas, such as:
- Non-profit organizations
- In-house counsel
- Media and journalism
Challenges and Rewards of Being a Lawyer
Being a lawyer can be a challenging but rewarding career. Lawyers must be able to think critically, analyze complex legal issues, and communicate effectively. They must also be able to work independently and under pressure.
Some of the challenges of being a lawyer include:
- Long hours
- High-stress environment
- Dealing with difficult clients and opposing counsel
- Keeping up with the ever-changing law
Some of the rewards of being a lawyer include:
- A challenging and stimulating work environment
- The opportunity to help clients and make a difference in their lives
- A good salary and benefits
- The potential to advance to senior positions
Overall, the career prospects for lawyers in Australia are good. There is a high demand for qualified lawyers in a variety of areas. Lawyers can work in private practice, government, academia, and non-profit organizations. Being a lawyer can be a challenging but rewarding career.
Average Salary of an Australian Lawyer
According to Indeed, the average salary for a lawyer in Australia is $119,340 per year. However, salaries can vary depending on a number of factors, including:
- Area of law
- Employer type
For example, lawyers with more experience typically earn higher salaries than lawyers with less experience. Additionally, lawyers who work in certain areas of law, such as corporate law or commercial law, tend to earn higher salaries than lawyers who work in other areas of law, such as criminal law or family law.
Here is a breakdown of the average salary for lawyers in Australia by experience level:
- Entry-level lawyers: $100,000 per year
- Experienced lawyers: $151,618 per year
The location where a lawyer works can also affect their salary. Lawyers who work in major cities, such as Sydney or Melbourne, typically earn higher salaries than lawyers who work in regional areas. Additionally, lawyers who work for private law firms tend to earn higher salaries than lawyers who work for the government or non-profit organizations.
Overall, the average salary for a lawyer in Australia is good. However, salaries can vary depending on a number of factors. If you are interested in becoming a lawyer, be sure to research the different areas of law and employer types to determine which path is right for you.