Practicing as a lawyer

Overview

Australian law schools provide a solid foundation for students planning to practice law in Canada (except Quebec), as both legal systems are based on English common law. Both Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Juris Doctor (JD) programs educate you to practice law and allow you to apply for registration in Canada after completing the NCA’s process outlined below.

When you return to Canada after completing an international law degree, including a degree from an Australian law school, you will first apply to have your credentials assessed by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). All applications are assessed by the NCA on a case-by-case basis, because everyone’s application is usually unique based on their own personal experiences and academic history.

The basic process when returning to Canada and meeting the requirements to practice as a lawyer is as follows:

  • NCA – Assessment and challenge examinations
  • Articling (or a Law Practice Program – LPP)
  • Barrister & Solicitor Exams
  • Being “called to the Bar”

NCA Assessment

Process

1. Submit your application and other documentation to the NCA for assessment
You will be required to submit

  •  an official copy of your transcript (detailed mark sheets) confirming your JD or LLB graduation;
  •  original or official pre-law university transcripts (if applicable); and
  •  an updated outline of your education and work experience (résumé or curriculum vitae).

#OzTREKKNote: Cost to apply is $350. NCA assessment outcomes are typically within three months of receipt of all material. Learn more about the NCA application process.

2. Your JD or LLB qualifications are assessed
Your qualifications will be assessed based on factors like type of degree completed, mode of study (online/classroom), program accreditation, courses completed, academic performance and professional work experience.

3. Complete additional requirements 
Based on your NCA assessment outcome, you will be asked to complete NCA examinations for 5 core subjects: Constitutional law, Criminal law, Administrative law, Foundations of Canadian law, and Canadian Professional Responsibility/Ethics (details below).

4. Receive the NCA’s Certificate of Qualification
You receive a Certificate of Qualification allowing you to seek licensure to practice law in the Canadian province of your choosing.

The Canadian National Mobility Agreement provides a straightforward process for individuals looking to practice law in other provinces (except in territories and Quebec).

Prepare for

NCA Exams

When you return to Canada after completing an international Law degree, including a degree from an Australian law school, you will first apply to have your credentials assessed by the NCA. All applications are assessed by the NCA on a case-by-case basis, because everyone’s application is usually unique based on their own personal experiences and academic history.

NCA assessments focus on the core common law subjects in which you will demonstrate competence, including five Canadian subjects which are mandatory for all applicants. Most Australian law school graduates who apply through the NCA would be asked to complete challenge exams in the following five areas (and possibly more, depending on the student’s educational background):

1. Canadian Administrative Law
2. Canadian Constitutional Law
3. Canadian Criminal Law
4. Foundations of Canadian Law
5. Canadian Professional Responsibility

Exams are graded on a pass/fail basis (50% is considered a pass). Results are released approximately 10–12 weeks from the date of the last scheduled exam of each session.

The NCA exams are self-study, so you must obtain the material on your own. Many law graduates get their texts from law schools/libraries, and from searching on Google. Be sure to consult the syllabus before purchasing the materials as the textbooks used can change, and ensure you purchase the correct edition of all texts.

Once you have successfully completed the assigned requirements, the NCA will issue a Certificate of Qualification. That certificate is required to apply to a Canadian law society in a common law jurisdiction. Be sure to visit the Federation of Law Societies of Canada website for accreditation and certification information, and contact us if you have any questions.

Articling

You will first article in the province of your choice which will take anywhere from 10–12 months total (depending on the province).

During articling, you will complete a program called Practical Legal Training (PLT) course. During this course, you will complete various practical legal assignments as well as the bar exam. You must pass these assignments and bar exam in order to become qualified as a lawyer in Canada.

Once you successfully complete your articling term and the PLT course, you may be called to the bar to begin your journey as an associate.

See a former OzTREKK student’s blog about finding an articling position.

Practicing in Australia

Step #1 Undertake supervised workplace training or practical legal training

Once you’ve completed your JD or LLB, you will need to undertake either a supervised workplace training (generally a 1-year traineeship with a law firm) or complete practical legal training (PLT), which is a 6- to 12-month course from a PLT provider.

Queensland 

Although Griffith doesn’t offer a PLT program, Bond offers this option in the form of a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, available both online and on campus. Generally, it takes two semesters to complete. If you were to complete your JD at Bond, you would also be eligible for the 10% Alumni Discount going into the PLT program! Alternatively you can look at a few other Queensland options to satisfy this requirement.

New South Wales

The University of Newcastle takes the cake on preparation for work in Australia, as the PLT program is built into the JD program!

The University of Sydney offers a more visual depiction of the pathway to practice. The university does not have an integrated PLT program, but does recognize the following options in New South Wales:

Step #2 Apply for a practicing certificate

Once you’ve completed the legal training, you’ll be able to gain admissions as a lawyer. Pending on which state you wish to practice in, you’ll need to apply for a Practising Certificate from the local law society from the state in which you’d like to practice.

From here, state pending, you’ll be qualified as a lawyer (solicitor) or you can complete some additional requirements to then be called to the bar to work as a barrister.

 

FAQs

LSAT too low or no longer valid

In the case of the University of Melbourne, all applicants will need to have a valid LSAT from within the last five years to be considered. The score requirement will vary pending on your GPA. OzTREKK is not able to submit an application to Melbourne without an LSAT (or details that indicate a student is registered to complete the test before a set date).

Retake the LSAT
If the LSAT deadline has not passed, you can resit the test in order to improve your score. Once this has been completed, we will liaise with Melbourne until they receive the score and can reassess your application.

Apply to an alternative law program
Consider applying to another law program that doesn’t require the LSAT. As the University of Melbourne is the only law school requiring the LSAT as part of its admissions requirements, you have many other universities to choose from. Visit OzTREKK’s law programs page for a list of law schools.

Feel free to email law@oztrekk.com for more details and information about the program options available!

Are there any scholarships available to international law students?

Scholarship options in Australia are usually limited for international students as they tend to be reserved for students undertaking postgraduate research degrees and not professional degrees; however, OzTREKK can advise students on where to look for scholarships and whether specific programs have a history of offering scholarships.

In 2018, OzTREKK law students received more than AUD $80,000 in scholarships!

Is the LSAT required for Australian university law programs?

Yes, the University of Melbourne Law School will require the LSAT as part of your law school application. However, due to the current pandemic, the university has waived this requirement for the 1–2021 intake only.

Monash University Law School will also accept the LSAT, but it is not required. Depending on your GPA, submitting a strong LSAT can make your application more competitive.

How will the law schools calculate my average? From my last two years, or from all years?

All OzTREKK-featured law programs will base your law application academic assessment on your cumulative average.

Will my Australian law degree be recognized here in Canada?

Graduate qualifications in law from Australian universities are recognized internationally. The basic process when returning to Canada and meeting the requirements to practice as a lawyer is as follows:

  • NCA – Assessment and challenge examinations
  • Articling (or a Law Practice Program – LPP)
  • Barrister & Solicitor Exams
  • Being “called to the Bar”

When you return to Canada after completing an international Law degree, including a degree from an Australian law school, you will first apply to have your credentials assessed by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). All applications are assessed by the NCA on a case-by-case basis, because everyone’s application is usually unique based on their own personal experiences and academic history.

NCA assessments focus on the core common law subjects in which you will demonstrate competence, including five Canadian subjects which are mandatory for all applicants. Most Australian law school graduates who apply through the NCA would be asked to complete challenge exams in the following five areas:

1. Canadian Administrative Law
2. Canadian Constitutional Law
3. Canadian Criminal Law
4. Foundations of Canadian Law
5. Canadian Professional Responsibility

Once you have successfully completed the assigned requirements, the NCA will issue a Certificate of Qualification. That certificate is required to apply to a Canadian law society in a common law jurisdiction. Be sure to visit the Federation of Law Societies of Canada website for accreditation and certification information, and contact us if you have any questions.

When can I start my law studies in Australia?

Australian law programs commence in the first semester of each year, which is in late February/early March. Many of our law programs also have mid-year (June/July) and third-trimester (August/September) intakes as well!

Learn more about your law degree options.

What is the difference between the Bachelor of Laws (undergraduate-entry LLB) the Bachelor of Laws (graduate-entry LLB) and the Juris Doctor (JD)?

The Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and the Bachelor of Laws graduate-entry (LLB GE) and Juris Doctor (JD) are all law degrees which upon their completion enable you to apply in your jurisdiction to practice as a lawyer.

Bachelor of Laws (LLB): This is an undergraduate law degree. Students can enter this LLB program directly from high school.

Bachelor of Laws (LLB GE): Some Australian universities offer a graduate-entry stream for the LLB, which means applicants require an undergraduate degree to be eligible for entry.

Juris Doctor (JD): This is a graduate law degree. Applicants require an undergraduate degree to be eligible for entry.

All LLB and JD programs educate students to practice law and allow you to apply for registration in Canada. The main difference is that the LLB is offered at the undergraduate level, and the JD is offered at the postgraduate level.