Welcome     In this chapter –    

Australia as your study destination

Prerequisites for studying law in Australia

Choosing the law school that is best for you

Coming to Australia

Living in Australia

Legal education in Australia

Practising law in Australia

A guide to Australia’s law schools

A guide to Australia’s practical legal training programs

A guide to Australia’s postgraduate law programs


Admission to practice

Obtaining a practising certificate

Practising throughout Australia

The legal profession in Australia

High Court of Australia, Canberra

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 body.

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 be issued.

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 certificate.

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.

Contact details are:

The Law Council of Australia
19 Torrens Street

Phone: +61 2 6246 3788
Fax: +61 2 6248 0639
Web: http://www.lawcouncil.asn.au

Coogee Beach, Sydney