Becoming a lawyer is a highly rewarding career choice, offering opportunities to make a positive impact on society, provide legal representation to clients, and work on challenging and exciting cases. If you’re considering a career in law and want to practice in Australia, here is a step-by-step guide on how to become a lawyer in the country:
Step 1: Complete Your Undergraduate Degree
The first step towards becoming a lawyer in Australia is obtaining an undergraduate degree. While there isn’t a specific requirement for the type of degree you need, most law students pursue a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or a combined degree like a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws or a Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws. The LLB degree generally takes three to four years to complete.
Step 2: Obtain Practical Legal Training
After completing your undergraduate degree, you will need to undergo practical legal training (PLT). PLT programs are approved by the Legal Practitioners Admission Board and are essential for being admitted to legal practice in Australia. PLT providers offer both on-campus and online courses, allowing flexibility for students. The duration of PLT varies, but it usually takes around 6 to 12 months to complete.
Step 3: Apply for Admission to the Legal Profession
Once you have completed your undergraduate degree and obtained PLT, you can apply for admission to the legal profession in Australia. This involves submitting an application to the legal admissions authority in your state or territory. The admission process typically includes a character assessment, which includes a national criminal history check and a declaration of your fitness to practice law.
Step 4: Complete Practical Experience
After being admitted, you will need to gain practical legal experience before you can fully practice as a lawyer. Practical experience can be obtained through working as a solicitor or barrister, participating in clerkships at law firms, or undertaking internships with legal organizations. This experience allows you to further develop your legal skills and knowledge. The exact duration and requirements for practical experience vary depending on the jurisdiction.
Step 5: Obtain a Practicing Certificate
To practice law in Australia, you will need to obtain a practicing certificate. The specifics of obtaining a certificate vary among the states and territories, but it generally involves submitting an application, paying the required fees, and providing proof of admission to the legal profession. A practicing certificate needs to be renewed annually, and failure to maintain it can result in suspension or loss of the right to practice law.
Step 6: Further Specialization
Once you’re a qualified lawyer, you may choose to further specialize in a specific area of law. This can be achieved through additional coursework, postgraduate studies, or participating in specialist programs and certifications. Specializing in a particular field allows you to develop expertise and enhance your career prospects.
Step 7: Continual Professional Development
As with any profession, continuous learning is crucial to stay updated with the rapidly evolving legal landscape. Lawyers in Australia are required to engage in ongoing professional development activities. This involves attending relevant seminars, workshops, conferences, and completing courses to earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.
Becoming a lawyer in Australia requires significant dedication, commitment, and hard work. It is a rigorous process designed to ensure that only qualified professionals enter the legal profession. By following these step-by-step guidelines, you can embark on a career in law and make a meaningful contribution to the legal community in Australia.