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How to become a Lawyer in Australia for International Students

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Becoming a Lawyer in Australia 

Are you a lawyer in your home country? Or have you always wanted to study law and be a lawyer in Australia? 

If so, read on below as we listed everything to know about how to become a lawyer in Australia for international students!

Why become a lawyer in Australia?

First things first, why is studying law a great idea in Australia? A law degree will most definitely lead to an interesting legal career as a solicitor or barrister. Also, in virtually every field you can think of, studying law can open doors to many opportunities.

Legal education is not only a technical expertise but also an advancement in critical thinking, ethical theory, and policy-based research.

Law graduates who are employed in corporate administration, banking and finance, politics and government, and even migration, have used their legal skills to develop careers around the world.

How to become a lawyer in Australia

The process for becoming a Barrister or Solicitor in Australia consists of 4 steps:

1.Obtain the necessary qualification: 

To become a lawyer in Australia you will typically need to complete one of these three qualifications:

  • A Bachelor of Laws (LLB)

Generally, a Bachelor of Laws is a 3 to 4-year degree. University graduates or people with any university background can be candidates for an LLB. 

Depending on the university, each law school have their own mandatory subjects and offers a wide variety of elective classes. Generally, you have to complete 11 key study areas known as the ‘Priestley 11’.

  • Bachelor of Laws (LLB) double degrees

A combined law degree, also known as double or dual degrees, allows you to graduate from 2 qualifications. Some of the subjects valid for your double degree include arts, business and many others. 

Usually, taking a double degree will increase the duration of your qualification from 4 years to more than 5 years. If you are not yet sure about your legal career or if you want to pursue an area of study that will supplement law practice, combining degrees is perfect.

Another option for international students with a previous degree is to do a recognition of your qualification with the LPBA. 

  • Juris Doctor (JD)

Juris Doctor is a postgraduate degree that typically takes from 3 to 4 years to complete. If you have a degree from overseas, you can study a Juris Doctor as it is tailored for international students with previous education.

Also, if you want to find courses in law, you can use our online course search tool, or find the full list of universities offering law degrees in Australia in this link.

2. Complete Practical Legal training (PLT)

Completing your PLT is a mandatory step to become a lawyer in Australia. All states, aside from Western Australia, require law graduates to undergo Practical Legal Training (PLT) before they can practise law.

Why?

While a Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor provides you with theoretical knowledge of the law, it satisfies only part of the eligibility requirements. The PLT will give you the practical knowledge necessary to practice as a lawyer. Moreover, it is intended to help you improve the realistic, day-to-day skills you would need as an entry-level lawyer.

A number of universities offer a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. This course focuses on the practical skills that lawyers need to excel, including negotiation, dispute resolution, lobbying, customer interviewing, and legal writing and drafting documents. You will learn actual skills needed for the profession, such as how to draft and file affidavits, how to appear in court, and much more.

PLT must be carried out after graduation and generally takes less than 1 year. For more information about Practical Legal Training, visit this link.

3. Register with the Admission Board

After you have completed your degree and finished your practical legal training, all you need to do now is to register for entry into practise and be accepted by the court. You should obtain admission from the Admissions Authority of the relevant state or territory within 5 years after graduating.

Admission to practise is a lifelong privilege which can only be revoked in cases of misconduct or criminal conviction. Once admitted to the profession, lawyers are also required to apply for a certificate of practise.

What’s next?

After becoming a lawyer you can decide whether you want to remain a solicitor or continue your studies and become a barrister. It may be better to do this at a law firm that specialises in the area of your choice, it may be better to do this.

Solicitor vs Barrister – What is the difference?

Solicitors will generally advise clients who face serious legal issues and give the first specialised legal advice. A solicitor is a legal professional who spends most of his/her time helping clients in their daily legal affairs. They are responsible for a variety of legal obligations and can provide clients with advice or a plan to deal with virtually any legal issue. For example, a solicitor may assist someone in drawing up their Will and advise them on the obligations of the executors of a will. Even though solicitors can appear in court, they spend most of the time advising clients and typically have barristers handle court appearances for them.

On the other hand, Barristers spend most of their time in court as legal practitioners. They do not engage as much in their clients’ regular legal practises. The main differentiating factor with barristers is that they are not necessarily required; there are certain cases when it would be redundant and wasteful to employ both a barrister and a solicitor.

Migration opportunities for lawyers in Australia

Currently, both the professions of Barrister and Solicitor are listed in the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) in Australia. 

In addition, each state and territory has its own list of occupations which can lead to other migration opportunities.

To see the full occupation list and visa options available for each profession in Australia visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

Study Options

Each state has its own laws and legal board. For this reason, before choosing your institution of preference, you should choose the state or territory where you want to practise as a lawyer.
The top institutions for Undergraduate courses in law in Australia are:

For more information about institutions, courses and more study options make sure to contact us. 

How to become a lawyer with a qualification from another country

If you are coming from Latin America, Europe and some parts of Asia, the legal system will probably be based on the Roman Law (Civil Law). However, the Australian code is based on Commonwealth Law. Consequently, the legal principles, framework and procedures for applying the laws are quite different between the two. 

For that reason, if you are a foreign lawyer and want to work in Australia, you will have to retake part, if not all, of the law course you studied previously.

How much you have to study depends on the evaluation of your studies and your experience. A competent Australian body, usually the Legal Profession Admission Board (LPAB) conducts these evaluations. The recognition process will determine the number of units you will need to study and which ones will be recognised.

International lawyers who have received an LPAB assessment of their qualification can then contact universities in order to complete the remaining units. As a result, the universities will advise on the best academic path.

Qualification types for LPAB assessment:

Depending on the number of academic subjects required by the LPAB, the university may be able to prescribe the most appropriate academic course for you to meet the requirements of the LPAB. The courses generally prescribed are:

  • Graduate Certificate in Australian Law
  • Graduate Diploma in Australian Law
  • Master of Legal Studies
  • Juris Doctor

Becoming a lawyer in Australia may look difficult, but it can definitely be rewarding. For more information about institutions, courses, and more, book a free consultation with our experienced team and we will be happy to guide you through the process.

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