How to Become a Lawyer in Australia or New Zealand after an LL.M.

Seen as a gateway to the fast-growing economies of Asia, Australia and New Zealand offer attractive career and lifestyle perks in their own right

Australia and New Zealand have long held a certain luster for prospective LL.M. students, and even overseas trained lawyers looking to tap into a dynamic legal market. The attractions are so obvious: these are English speaking countries with a common law system and strong ties to the fast-growing economies of Asia.

Demand for lawyers is strong in Australia and New Zealand, especially corporate and transaction work, thanks to an active mergers and acquisitions market. There are attractive lifestyle perks too, including enviable weather in these beautiful locations.

Practicing law in Australia after an LL.M.

Qualifying to practice law in Australia is not easy, and candidates will need to jump through several hoops. The usual pathway includes completing up to two years of supervised practice at a law firm, combined with several years of education and training.

The first step would be to complete an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in law, such as an LL.M. Australia boasts some of the oldest and largest universities in the world, in a wide array of locations, from economic and cultural capitals such as Melbourne and Sydney, to Brisbane in western Australia. Melbourne Law School’s LL.M. offers more than 150 classes. Sydney Law School students can focus on Energy & Resources Law, International Law, and Intellectual Property Law.

Overseas lawyers who already hold a law degree can apply for an assessment of their qualifications to apply for academic exemptions, for a fee.

The second step, is to complete Practical Legal Training (PLT), a structured course of training that helps graduates develop practical skills that they will need to work on the job. After completing the PLT (usually in less than a year) candidates are awarded a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP).

With this qualification, they can apply for admission within five years of graduation as a legal practitioner in a specific state or territory in Australia. The country consists of six federated states (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia) and ten federal territories. Once admitted to practice in a state or territory, a lawyer can apply for mutual recognition from any other regional Australian authority.

Then, the candidate must apply for a practicing certificate from the local Law Society in their state or territory, which grants them authorization to engage in legal practice. From there, comes 18 to 24 months of supervised practice at a law firm — the last step in the process to becoming fully fledged lawyer in Australia.

Practicing law in New Zealand after an LL.M.

Becoming a lawyer in New Zealand requires candidates to complete a law degree, one approved by the New Zealand Council of Legal Education. The country has six law schools that offer LL.M. degrees. The highest-ranked institution is University of Auckland’s Faculty of Law, which is located in the nation’s largest city and offers flexible study options after business hours and scholarships for international students.

Overseas law graduates, or those admitted to practice in another country, except Australia may need to complete further modules of study.

From there, students have to complete the Professional Legal Studies Course, a structured training program that helps build workplace skills. A few course providers offer flexible options that include online study over 13 weeks full-time or 18 weeks part-time. Overseas trained lawyers might be exempt from this, as long as their qualifications and experienced have been assessed by the New Zealand Council of Legal Education (NZCLE).

After completing this course of study, graduates can apply for admission as a legal practitioner in New Zealand, provided they have a Completion Certificate issued by the NZCLE. It can take up to eight weeks processing time, though a fast-track eight-day option exists for New Zealand university graduates, for a fee. Overseas law graduates will also need a Completion Certificate.

In addition, candidates must obtain a certificate of character from the Law Society, which verifies you are a fit and proper person to be admitted as a barrister and solicitor in New Zealand.

And then, students must apply for admission to the Roll of Barristers and Solicitors of the High Court of New Zealand. This requires a fee and an affidavit in support. Once admitted, candidates must apply to the Law Society for a practicing certificate, the final phase of the process.

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