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 Victoria.
Step 1: Academic Qualifications
Upon finishing your law degree from an approved institution, you must arrange to have your academic transcript sent to the Legal Admissions Board with your typed Application for Compliance Certificate.
Step 2: Practical Legal Training (PLT)
You have two options to satisfy this requirement. You can either complete supervised legal training (i.e. on the job learning) or enrol in a PLT course with either the College of Law or Leo Cussen.
You can commence your PLT course after you have completed your academic qualification, or you can commence in your final year, provided you have no more than two units remaining (electives) and have received permission. You must arrange for proof of completion to be sent to the Board.
Supervised Legal Training
A supervised legal traineeship runs for a minimum of twelve months under the supervision of an eligible practitioner and you will need to demonstrate understanding and competence in various skills and practice areas applicable to legal practice. They’ll usually be a mix of on-the-job training and theory based subjects (done in-house or with a PLT provider) to check off those competencies.
You’ll need to keep a log of all your activities and have them signed off by your trainer (as well as a statutory declaration as to your competency) so that when you apply for admission the Board can see that you have met the PLT requirements.
Step 3: Suitability
This is the part where you have to show the Board that you are a fit and proper person. Along with your Application for Compliance Certificate you will need to present the following:
Student conduct report
This is a report from your PLT provider (if you chose that option) and university outlining any incident(s) of misconduct – if they have arisen. This includes both academic and general misconduct, whether there were formal proceedings or not. So this is why you need to be extremely careful not to plagiarise, cheat or collude, and not act in an offensive manner while at university, as could potentially exclude you from admission (based on the Board’s judgment). It is your responsibility to arrange for this report to be sent to the Board.
You must provide a National Police Certificate, which shows your criminal history in Australia. The good news is if you haven’t committed any offences you need not worry, but as a matter of procedure, you’ll still need to obtain one and have it sent to the Board.
Affidavit of Disclosure
You’ll need to disclose matters (with documentary evidence) that might be relevant to the determination of whether you are a fit and proper person to be admitted. You must prove that you can satisfactorily carry out the inherent requirements of practice. This includes both health and psychological matters. You must also submit a separate statutory declaration authorised by a witness as to the matters which you have disclosed, as well as another which outlines whether there is anything affecting your capacity to practise. This must be true, accurate and complete otherwise, it may result in your application being rejected.
Proficiency in the English language
Note: you can skip this if you aren’t prescribed the IELTS. This is just to make sure you have the reading, writing, listening and speaking skills required to work in the legal profession. If you are required to take it, then you must pass all the tests to demonstrate your proficiency in English.
Evidence of character
You’ll need to provide two statutory declarations as to your character made by people unrelated to you by blood, marriage, or a domestic partner. They must have known you for at least two years. Make sure they agree with any facts which you have disclosed and that they agree, as by signing they have accepted that all the matters are true and accurate.
Step 4: Time to Lodge
You are now ready to apply for a Compliance Certificate (yay!). You’ll need to file the application in person with a photo ID and statutory declaration in the presence of an authorised witness along with the fee (currently $926.60).
Once you’ve filed, the Board will consider whether or not there are any objections that may affect your eligibility or suitability for admission. It may take awhile, but in the meantime you’ll get your name published online!
The journey to admission is a long and hard one, but it’ll all be worth it when you have that Practising Certificate hanging on your wall. If you would like more detailed information, visit the Victorian Law Admission Board website.
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.