The process of becoming a lawyer (i.e. being certified to practice law in Australia) is summarised below:
1. Completing your law degree
The very first step is to complete an Australian law degree (note: overseas law degrees are more complicated for gaining admission). This can be either a Bachelor of Laws (llb) or Juris Doctor (JD).
2. Completing a Practical Legal Training (PLT) program
After you have finished your law degree, you can undertake the Practical Legal Training program. This program is all about allowing students to apply the knowledge from university to practical situations. During this program, study some subjects as well as work under a senior legal practitioner. The study may be face-to-face or online, depending on your institution. Note that the PLT must be completed within 5 years after you completed your law degree.
The PLT program usually lasts 6 months (full-time) or 1 year (part-time).
Some universities offer a PLT program: Australian National University, University of Technology Sydney, Queensland University of Technology, University of Adelaide and Bond University. If your university does not run a PLT program, you can undertake the program at the College of Law or the Leo Cussen Centre for Law.
3. Admission into the legal profession
Once you have completed your PLT, you will have to be admitted to your chosen state/territory’s legal professions board. Your local board will check if you are a “proper and fit” person to practise law. This is a check of whether your are ethically suitable for the legal profession and may include: criminal record checks and university conduct checks.
Becoming a Solicitor
After admission, if you want to work as a solicitor, you must apply for a practising certificate. You will be required to practise law under supervision (usually a period of 2 years).
Becoming a Barrister
If you want to become a barrister, you must pass your bar exams (around 10 months). Then you must complete the Reader’s Practising Certificate (1 year). Being a Reader means you undertake a Bar practise course and work under the supervision of an experienced barrister. After successful completion of these two elements, you will then be issued with a barrister’s practising certificate.
The above guide is simply a general summary of the process of becoming a solicitor or barrister. Each state has its own guidelines, so it is important that you understand the procedures in your state/territory. Find out more looking at the relevant websites: