How to become a lawyer
Begin your law career
Are you ready to begin a rewarding and engaging legal career path? By the end of your learning journey, you’ll have conquered study, exams, placement and training. Take a look at the steps in more detail:
- Your first step is to complete a recognised Bachelor of Laws that’s approved by your state or territory’s Law Society. If you already have an undergraduate degree, you can enrol in a Juris Doctor.
- After ticking off your undergraduate law degree, you must undertake a Practical Legal Training (PLT) program in order to practice as a lawyer. You can do this under the supervision of a working lawyer, or by earning a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice.
- Once you have the required industry experience, you can seek admission as a lawyer through the Admissions Authority in your state or territory. You must do this within five years of graduating. You’ll also need to apply for an Australian practising certificate.
- Already in the industry? You can develop your knowledge even further with a postgraduate law degree. This will allow you to specialise in an area of interest and prepare yourself for greater opportunities.
What does a lawyer do?
Lawyers are the ultimate communicators, researchers and investigators. They sit down with everyday people and measure their stories, before gathering evidence, precedent (past cases with similar issues or outcomes), exploratory documents and other information to support the legal position of their client. While TV has taught us clients are usually individuals, lawyers also take cases related to businesses, groups, classes and couples, depending on their experience and specialisation.
New recruits and junior lawyers rarely stand in front of judges and juries. Before you take command of a courtroom, you’ll develop an understanding of everything that matters in a case. You’ll read witness statements and prepare documents, research legal issues and write observations about the client and the case, to be shared with the lead barrister or solicitor later. As you settle into your career, you may work in a variety of fields, allowing you to give effective legal advice in an area you’ve grown passionate about.
Some of these fields include:
- Family law
- Immigration law
- Criminal law
- Human rights law
- Commercial law
- Copyright law
- Personal injury law
- Divorce law
Duties and tasks
While what you do every day will vary from case to case (and what role you choose to pursue), you can generally expect to:
- Provide legal advice and represent clients in court, tribunals and in mediation.
- Research and investigate claims, organise witnesses and present evidence in court.
- Draw up and file legal documents, such as lawsuits, appeals, wills, contracts, and deeds related to divorces, wills, contracts and real estate transactions.
- Study and interpret laws, rulings and regulations for individuals and businesses.
Law Council of Australia
The Law Council represents the Australian legal profession on national and international issues, on federal law and the operation of federal courts and tribunals. It works for the improvement of the law and of the administration of justice.
The below industry bodies act as the voices of the legal profession within each state or territory. They represent the interests of their members and preserve the integrity of the justice system.
- The Law Society of NSW
- Law Institute of Victoria
- Queensland Law Society
- ACT Law Society
- Law Society of South Australia
- Law Society of Western Australia
- Law Society of Tasmania
- Law Society Northern Territory
The role you step into will depend on how far you take your studies and the direction you choose to explore. Here are a few popular law jobs to give you an idea of what might come next:
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