Admission to practice
To practise as a lawyer involves admission to practice by the Supreme
Court of an Australian State or Territory, and then the obtaining of
a practising certificate, usually issued by the local legal professional
To be admitted as a legal practitioner in Australia a person must satisfy
requirements in regard to –
- legal knowledge
- practical training
- good fame and character.
The knowledge requirements involve completion of a tertiary academic
course involving 11 areas of legal knowledge specified in the Uniform
Admission Rules (generally a four year degree, or a three year degree
for those with a prior degree).
A law degree from any of the institutions listed in Studying Law in
Australia is taken to satisfy the knowledge requirements specified in
the Uniform Admission Rules.
Overseas degrees or courses of study may be recognised by an Australian
admitting authority. In some circumstances an applicant may be required
to undertake further Australian study, in addition to their foreign
qualifications, in order to be admitted to practice.
The practical training requirement is met by completion of an approved
practical legal training course and/or articles of clerkship. This period
of training typically covers a period from six months to one year.
Obtaining a practising certificate
Practising certificates are issued by the relevant body (usually a legal
professional body) in each Australian State or Territory, and may involve
a period of restricted practice (ie. a period of work as an employed
solicitor) or further requirements, depending on the State or Territory.
The issue of a practising certificate usually occurs on a restricted
basis, involving up to 24 months of supervision under a senior legal
practitioner, after which an unrestricted practising certificate may
Continuing legal education to a specified level over a 12 month period
is a requirement for renewal of practising certificates in most jurisdictions.
There are no barriers to non-Australians obtaining a practising certificate
provided they meet the criteria for admission and issue of a practising
Practising throughout Australia
After gaining admission and obtaining a practising certificate, lawyers
admitted to practice in one State or Territory can apply and be admitted
and obtain a practising certificate in another State or Territory under
the mutual recognition scheme. However, under the national practising
certificate scheme, this is usually not now necessary.
The national practising certificate scheme provides that lawyers entitled
to practise in one State or Territory can practise in another without
having to obtain a practising certificate in the latter jurisdiction.
It negates the need to incur costs associated with registration in the
latter jurisdiction under the mutual recognition scheme. The national
practising certificate scheme operates in every State and Territory.
The legal profession in Australia
The legal profession is regulated at the State and Territory level in
Australia although, as a national legal services market emerges, there
is significant harmonisation of rules and procedures. There are law
societies (for solicitors) and usually bar associations (for barristers)
in all Australian States and Territories.
These professional bodies can be contacted through Australia’s
peak legal professional body, the Law Council of Australia.