English language requirements for lawyers
If you want to apply for admission as a lawyer in Australia, you must have sufficient knowledge of written and spoken English. That’s important for work in legal practice. Also, it is probably a requirement for your visa. However, not everyone will need to do an IELTS test. Read the exemptions here. If you a lawyer and want to know more about work visas in Australia? Find it here.
Need IELTS to become a lawyer? You can demonstrate your English proficiency by doing the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic test. As of January 2020, you need to achieve the following minimum scores:
|IELTS Test||Minimum score|
Check with the assessing authority to be sure, but generally you must take the Academic IELTS test and not General Training. So, what’s the difference between the two tests? Also, test results must be no more than two years old at the time of applying for admission.
IELTS on computer: You can book today, and get your results next week.
Let us help you to get the IELTS score you need. We’ll guide you to the best preparation material and tips.
Tips to meet the minimum IELTS scores for lawyers
To enter the legal profession in Australia from overseas, you may need to do an IELTS test. For the Writing test, you need an IELTS band score of 8.0. We’ve listed 8 steps towards a band 8. Also learn from the mistakes other have made in this article.
Free support tools
At IELTS, most of the practice and preparation material we have is free. Why? Because we want you to do well in your test and achieve the results you require. We understand that repeating an exam can be frustrating. So, if you want to prepare on a budget, you should definitely attend a free IELTS Masterclass. We also have heaps of test tip videos, for example the “Five mistakes to avoid in the IELTS Reading test.” Before you sit your test, it’s also a good idea to have a look at the IELTS Support Tools – an easy guide on everything you need to know about the test.
Expert coaching by IELTS
If you need a bit more support, we can help you. IELTS Assist is a premium coaching service to improve your skills in Writing, Reading or Speaking. When you purchase IELTS Assist, you complete a custom preparation test at home, and get this corrected by an official IELTS expert. You get a personalised feedback report with tip on how to improve. If you want feedback on all components on the IELTS test, try the IELTS Progress Check. This is an official, computer-based IELTS practice test, assessed and scored by official IELTS markers.
Getting an exemption from the IELTS test as a lawyer
Not all foreign legal professionals will need to do an IELTS test to be admitted to the profession in Australia. For instance, if you are a native English speaker from the UK, the US or Canada you may be exempt. For more information about how to seek an exemption from this requirement, see the Guidelines for exemption from the IELTS test provided by the NSW Legal Professions Admission Board. Similar exemptions apply for other Australian States.
You can’t practise Australian law if you are a registered foreign lawyer. However, you may employ Australian legal practitioners. You can find detailed information about the requirements for registration as a foreign lawyer from the authority in the jurisdiction where you wish to practise.
In general, if you are an overseas lawyer and you want to practise as an Australian lawyer, you must complete and pass the compulsory “Priestley 11” subjects:
- Administrative Law
- Civil Dispute Resolution
- Company Law
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Ethics and Professional Responsibility
- Equity (including Trusts)
- Federal and State Constitutional law
There are a number of quality Australian universities that can help you. Check out our Study in Australia page, or get in touch with us for free study advice.
Becoming a lawyer in Victoria
Do you want to practise law in the Australian State of Victoria? If so, the Victorian Legal Admissions Board will assess your qualifications. It also determines the requirements for applicants to be eligible for admission to practise in Victoria. Generally, you are eligible to have your qualifications assessed if:
- You are a foreign graduate who hold an academic qualification in law (LLB or equivalent).
- Or if you are a foreign lawyer who is admitted and eligible to practice as a legal practitioner in a jurisdiction outside Australia
Becoming a lawyer in New South Wales
What do you need to know if you want to practice law in New South Wales? So, to practice in NSW you must:
- be admitted as a lawyer to the Australian legal profession; and.
- hold a current Australian practising certificate.
If you are admitted to the legal profession in an overseas jurisdiction (other than New Zealand) you must apply to the Legal Professions Admissions Board. The LPAB will assess your qualifications and practical legal training before you can apply for admission to the Supreme Court of NSW.
Becoming a lawyer in Queensland
To practise as a solicitor in Queensland involves four steps:
- Completion of an approved law degree.
- Completion of an approved practical legal training course or a supervised traineeship.
- Application for admission to Roll of Lawyers.
- Application for a practising certificate.
The Queensland Law Society assesses foreign lawyers who want to practise in Australia.
The occupation of Lawyer/Solicitor is currently on Australia’s Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) for skills migration. To apply for a visa under this program you need to meet a threshold of 60 points. Not sure how these points work? We’ve got you covered: What is Australia’s points system for immigration?
As a lawyer or solicitor, you apply independently or you can be sponsored by a state or territory government. Or even a close family member in a regional area of Australia. Visa sub classes under the general skilled migrant program that can be used are the Subclasses 189/190/489. Read more on immigration in Australia and Permanent Residency visas.
In addition to obtaining points for age, English ability, work experience and qualifications you also must have a skills assessment by the appropriate authority. This must be completed before an expression of interest can be made under the skill select program.
Skills Assessment Authority
Before you can migrate to Australia as a skilled migrant you must have your skills assessed by the relevant national assessment authority. The assessment authority for your occupation is the Legal Admission Authority of the state or territory you want to practise in.
Lawyers and the Skilled Occupations List eligible for Australian immigration and visas for 2020
|Occupation||ANZSCO Code||List||Visa subclass||Assessing authority|
Intellectual Property Lawyer
|271214||Regional||407, 491 (S/T), TSS (M)*, 494||VETASSESS|
|Solicitor||271311||MLTSSL||186, 189 (PT), 190, 407, 485 (GW), 489 (F), 491 (S/T), TSS (M), 494||A legal admissions authority of a State or Territory|
|Barrister||271111||MLTSSL||186, 189 (PT), 190, 407, 485 (GW), 489 (F), 491 (S/T), TSS (M), 494||A legal admissions authority of a State or Territory|
|Judicial and Other Legal Professionals||271299||STSOL||190, 407, 491 (S/T), TSS (S), 494||
- Immigration and the law
Legislation about immigration changes frequently. It’s important to check the Australian Department of Home Affairs website for changes that may apply to you. If you are interested in Australian student visas, work visas, or looking to migrate permanently, you need to lodge an application with the Australian Government. You may want to consider getting support from a lawyer or migration agent. However, you can also get free advice for student visas.
How much do lawyers earn in Australia?
In 2020, the average salary for a lawyer is $103,057 per year in Australia. Full-time workers on an adult wage earn around $1,646 per week (very high compared to the average of $1,460). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
What can you do with a law degree in Australia?
When you’ve completed a law degree, and you’ve been admitted as a solicitor you can:
- interview clients to determine the nature of problems, and recommend and undertaking appropriate legal action
- prepare cases for court by conducting investigations, undertaking research, arranging witness preparation and attendance. And you can and give notice of court actions
- represent clients in court
- manage conveyancing and other property matters. For example, you can prepare contracts of sale, mortgage documents, and lease documents
- prepare and critically review contracts between parties
- prepare wills
- provide advice on family law, company law, partnerships, commercial law and trusts
- act as trustee or guardian. Or, act as executor of clients’ wills.
What else can you do with a law degree in Australia?
With a law degree, you can do much more than practising law. While the skills you have are important in almost any job, here are 8 careers that value law graduates highly.
- Management consulting
- Judge’s associate
- Human resources
- Wealth management / investment banking
Is law a good career in Australia?
Full-time workers on an adult wage earn around $1,646 per week (very high compared to the average of $1,460). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows. About 84% of lawyers works full-time in Australia. The unemployment of solicitors in Australia was below the average in 2018.
Are lawyers still in demand?
An Australian Government report indicated that employers based in regional areas tend to have less success filling their vacancies. So, they attract a smaller number of applicants. So, if you are looking for a job as a lawyer, consider a regional area in Australia. There are also visas for regional migration.