Becoming a Lawyer
Becoming a lawyer involves more than just obtaining a law degree. In Australia, up to 50% of law graduates don't end up working as lawyers, moving instead to careers like banking, finance, consulting or journalism.
There is no 'one size fits all' law degree. They range from three year undergraduate LLB programs to double degree undergraduate programs, lasting up to six years to three year Juris Doctor (JD) programs for those who already have an undergraduate degree. The Council of Australian Law Deans has a list of all Australian law schools.
All states except Western Australia require law graduates to compete Practical Legal Training (PLT) before being admitted to practice. A number of Universities, like ANU through the Legal Workshop, and private providers such as the Leo Cussen Institute and the College of Law offer the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. This qualification focuses on the practical skills lawyers need to succeed, including negotiation, dispute resolution, advocacy, interviewing clients and legal writing and drafting.
In Western Australia, the Legal Practice Board administers an ‘Articles Training Program’ which works in conjunction with an articled clerk’s workplace experience to provide a foundation for subsequent practice. WA students can opt to undertake PLT instead.
Admission to Practice
Graduates of the Diploma in Legal Practice and WA residents who have completed an Articled Clerkship can seek admission to legal practice through the Law Admitting Authority in their home state. Admission to practice is a lifelong privilege that can only be revoked in cases of misconduct or criminal conviction. Once admitted to the profession, lawyers must also apply for, and maintain, a practising certificate.
Where does work experience fit in?
A period of work experience is a compulsory element of all practical legal training programs. Additionally, many students seek work experience at some point during their undergraduate study. Many State governments, government departments and non-government organisations and some private firms offer vacation clerkship 'schemes' which can enrich the whole experience of studying.