Australian legal education is an indoctrination process by which morally righteous young people are converted into corporate, morally grey adults. The majority of law students are involved in this process. Most students enter law school believing in justice, self-sacrifice and public service, but leave believing in only money and power.
This is the conclusion I reached after spending four years studying law schools in Australia. I went to great lengths to understand how this indoctrination process works, talking to many of the top law deans and dozens of law professors, and comparing their ideas on teaching to competing ideas in the UK, USA and Canada.
Every year, Australian law schools produce from anywhere between 7,500 to 15,000 law graduates depending on who you ask. This is an extraordinary figure as the total number of practicing solicitors in Australia (as of 2016) is around 71,509. So, at the very best there, law graduates entering the workforce are one-tenth the number of practicing solicitors. These are bleak numbers any way you put it. Obviously, the numbers alone should not deter the young and ambitious law student. However, this author believes that legal education continuously fails to prepare law students for legal practice.
The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG is somewhat of a demigod around law school corridors and lecture theatres. He served as a judge on the High Court for 12 years, has been named one of the most influential Australians ever, one of the country’s most creative minds, and one of the top public intellectuals. So what can we learn from him?
My friend and I decided to find out. We created The Thread - a 10-part documentary YouTube series. We met with leaders from wide-ranging fields: law, adventure, sport, business, philanthropy, medicine, and literature to uncover the common thread that binds them.
With over 12,000 graduates finishing a tertiary level legal qualification every year, the law graduate job market is tough. Outside your careers fairs and your law student society's careers guide, it's hard to find out about all the opportunities available after law school. While commercial law is a well-known route, law graduates are now broadening their horizons to discover where else they can apply their law degree.
We've put together a Law Graduate Job Market Map that captures some of the organisations where law graduates and young lawyers have started their careers. While it's not a definitive list, it highlights organisations that you may not have considered for your first law job.
If you have any feedback, or would like to see an organisation featured, get in touch!
If you wish to share this infographic, copy the code below:
Getting yourself into law school is tough. What is just as tough is making sure you’re making the right decision. Should you be doing a single law degree or a combined degree with another discipline? A great number of law students in Australia are encouraged to undertake double degrees. Not only does it provides students with an advantage in the job market, but it also allows them to learn an entirely different discipline. However, if you’re currently studying a single law degree or thinking of switching to a single law degree from double degrees, this article provides insights into both degrees to help you make the right decision.
Since commencing my career at the ANU College of Law, I frequently reflect upon my first few years of legal practice. It was such an exciting, exhilarating and at times, exhausting time. The following are a few things I wish I had been told when commencing my legal career and some tips I’ve learnt along the way.
To practice as a lawyer in Australia, you need to complete your Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP) - also referred to as Practical Legal Training, or PLT - before you can apply to be admitted as a legal practitioner. (When you see PLT or GDLP, note that these terms are used interchangeably and refer to the same course). Why ANU? This is really obvious to me because I chose to leave practice and teach into the ANU GDLP program two and a half years ago. For me it was an easy decision to make – the program is flexible, professional, current and most of all, incredibly valuable to new lawyers.
Law students are often told that a law degree holds significant value outside of coveted law graduate positions. We’re told that the analytical skills and attention to detail we picked up in our evidence and admin lectures will help us to forge a path outside of commercial practice. Over the past year, I’ve found this to be true. In fact, taking the path less travelled may actually be more exciting and fulfilling than anything a top-tier grad position can offer. Earlier this year I embarked on a journey chosen by many in our generation; I started a legal tech startup.
To become a lawyer in Queensland, completing your law degree is only the start. You will be required to complete supervised training or PLT as well as apply for admission. This article sets out the steps in becoming a legal practitioner in Queensland.