How to Become a Lawyer or Legal Practitioner in NSW

When you apply for admission into the legal profession, you’ll need to apply to get a Compliance Certificate which, when granted, shows you have the necessarily qualifications and suitability to become a legal practitioner. Here is the process for becoming a legal practitioner in NSW.

Step 1: Academic Qualifications  

Upon finishing your law degree at an approved institution, you must arrange your transcript to be sent in with your application for admission.

Step 2: Practical Legal Training (PLT)

This requirement is satisfied by successfully completing a PLT course with an accredited provider. Depending on your institution, you PLT course may be integrated with your law degree. If not, you may only commence it once you have finished your academic qualifications, unless you have no more than two electives left and have received permission.

If you completed your qualifications in another jurisdiction (that does not teach in English), then you must also demonstrate English proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score. 
You must attach an original certificate of completion from your PLT provider to your application. 
Note: as of 1 July 2015, supervised legal training is no longer an option to satisfy the PLT requirement.

Step 3: Fitness and Propriety

You must demonstrate to the Legal Profession Admission Board that you are a fit and proper person to be admitted to the Australian legal profession. This will be determined mainly using the following things:

Police reports
You must obtain a National Police Certificate, which shows whether or not you have any criminal history in Australia. It must have been issued by the police force, and you must have your identity verified after lodging a request online. This certificate must be dated no earlier than six months before the date your application is received.

Character references
You will also need to attach two statutory declarations as to your character made by persons who have known you for at least two years and are not related to you in any way. There are also forms they will need to fill out. If you are making a disclosure in your application, your character referees must have read the statement and attest to having read it in their declarations.

Early assessment of suitability
Before you apply for admission, you may wish to seek a declaration from the Board that a specific matter(s) you wish to disclose will not adversely affect their assessment of your suitability to be admitted. This application is usually made a number of years prior and is particularly relevant when someone is not sure whether they want to pursue law or not. If you have obtained this declaration, then you will need to attach it to your application as it is binding on the Board. 

Student conduct reports
If you have ever been the subject of disciplinary action about your student conduct (both at university and at PLT), then you will need to provide the official reports to the Board along with your application. It covers both academic and general misconduct. If you have never been the subject of disciplinary action, then you do not have to provide any such reports.

Disclosure statement 
This is a statement you need to write providing full details on any matter which might be relevant to the Board’s consideration of whether or not you are a fit and proper person. It must include matters which a reasonable applicant would consider as not being favourable for admission. If you need assistance in constructing your disclosure statement, view the Guidelines. You must attach with it original or certified copies of any evidence relating to any matter you have disclosed. It must be dated no earlier than one month before your application being received.  Remember, you have a duty to make a full and complete disclosure, whether the matter is positive or negative. A failure to disclose a matter or an attempt to mislead the Board may result in your admission being refused.  

Step 4: Lodgement 

Once you have all the documentation together, you must attach it all to your application and sign it in the presence of an authorised witness. This witness must be independent and impartial i.e. unrelated to you in any way. You may then lodge it with the Board along with the fee ($900). The Board will then give notice on their website of your application and afford the opportunity for a person to object (if they do) and then notify you by email of the outcome of your application.  If you have been successful (yay!) you can attend your ceremony at the Supreme Court with an already admitted person moving your admission. You will get to sign the Roll, make an Oath and collect your Certificate of Admission. Once you have signed the Roll, you are a lawyer.

The final step – applying through the Law Society or Bar for a practising certificate.
And the journey to becoming a lawyer is finally complete!

This guest post article was written by Jessica Awad. Jessica is a law student at Deakin University. She was a Court Clerk at Victoria Legal Aid from July – December 2015. You can connect with her on LinkedIn. If you are interested in contributing a blog piece, get in touch with us.