How To Survive And Thrive In Your First Year Of Law


How To Survive And Thrive In Your First Year Of Law Third Edition Published by: NSW Young Lawyers, The Law Society of NSW

170 Phillip Street, Sydney NSW 2000 DX 362 Sydney

T: 9926 0270 F: 9926 0282 E:

Disclaimer: This publication provides general information of an introductory nature and is not intended and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other professional advice. While every care has been taken in the production of this publication, no legal responsibility or liability is accepted, warranted or implied by the authors or the Law Society of NSW (NSW Young Lawyers) and any liability is hereby expressly disclaimed.

© 2017 The Law Society of NSW (NSW Young Lawyers), ACN 000 000 699, ABN 98 696 304 966.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), no part of this publication may be reproduced without the specific written permission of The Law Society of NSW.

This book has been printed on paper certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). PEFC is committed to sustainable forest management through third party forest certification of responsibly managed forests.



22 Taking a gap year 25 Studying law 31 Legal work experience 37 Eligibility for admission 41 Graduate Services 45 Legal positions 53 Completing a job application 57 Choosing the right firm 05 Foreword 07 Introduction 09 What is NSW Young Lawyers? 10 A day in the life… 13 The mismatch between expectation and reality 15 Is a legal career for me? 16 Inherent requirements


115 Further recommended reading 119 Are you amember of NSWYoung Lawyers? 64 Words of wisdom 67 Probation 69 Building relationships with your supervisor 75 Your secretary 77 Meeting your billable budget and time management 83 Your first court attendance 91 Problems in practice 111 Managing your professional reputation




I wish that this guidebook had been available when I was a young lawyer. Or, better yet, when I was just finishing school. If it was, I’d now probably be a happy vet. If I’m really honest though, even if this guidebook was around 20 or so years ago, I probably wouldn’t have read it. If there’s one piece of advice that I’d give to a young lawyer today, it’s this: read this guidebook. All of it. Now. Why?Well,ifyou’regoingtopotentially spend 20, 30, maybe even 40 years doing something, it’s a good idea to read the instruction booklet first. And ‘How to survive and thrive in your first year of law’ is a great instructionmanual. If the authors have left out an important aspect of legal practice for a young lawyer to consider, or have failed to address all of the questions a graduate might ask, I don’t know what it would be. There’s probably also an even better reasontoreadthisguidebook.It’sonething to be a 20-something that finds themselves staring out of a law firm window while wondering, is there something better than this? It’s a whole lot sadder to be doing that as a forty-something.

This guidebook is designed to ensure

that shouldn’t happen.

It’s natural for a book like this to focus on the pitfalls of legal practice rather than the positives, and a whole lot of bad stuff gets covered in the pages that follow. Long hours; burnout; stories about partners who “don’t have time to be nice”; stories about having to do things that perhaps you’re not ethically suited to. And, at the end of it, realising that in your entire career you will probably never have an Alan Shore or Denny Crane moment in court. Except unintentionally. It’s still true, just as it was nearly 50 years ago, that “no one gets to be Atticus Finch except Gregory Peck.” But you might end up finding out that you like being a lawyer. A lot of people do, and some of those people do a lot of good for others while they’re at it. Youmight end up finding out that parts of it are enjoyable, and that some of it’s even fun. Even some of the hard stuff. Whether you end up liking being a lawyer or not though, you’ll be a whole lot better informed about the sometimes daunting process of starting your career if you read ‘How to survive and thrive in your first year of law’.

Richard Beasley SC Barrister, Level Nine Wentworth Chambers




T he aim of this guide is to assist law students in forging a career in the law and provide valuable guidance for their first years of practice. Depression is unfortunately alarmingly high among young lawyers, compared to the general population. Therefore, a key component of this guide is to provide information on this very important issue. We would like to give special acknowledgement to everybody who was involved in the first edition of ‘How to Survive and Thrive’, an idea initiated and drafted by members of the NSW Young Lawyers Civil Litigation Committee, and designed by Raubinger Visual Communications. The second edition of the guide was updated by the members of the Executive Council and designed by Michael Nguyen. We are now onto our third edition, which was updated by members of the Executive Council along with input from the Graduate Services department of the Law Society of NSW, and designed by Michael Nguyen.


PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Continuing Legal Education Seminars and products Business skills


MEMBER ENGAGEMENT Leadership opportunities Communication

Involvement in industry round table discussions Interaction with Law Society parent committees Practitioners Guides

Smooth transition between NSWYL membership to the Law Society of NSW Mid Year and Annual Assemblies

SOCIAL EVENTS Golden Gavel Young Professionals Ball Sports Days Trivia Nights

COMMUNITY FOCUS Civic Education Mental Health Annual Charity focus Pro bono activities Volunteer work International and local projects

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT Networking Career advice and services

Career transitioning Mentoring program Soft skills training


WHAT IS NSW YOUNG LAWYERS? NSW Young Lawyers is the largest collective group of active, innovative and dynamic young lawyers in Australia, supporting the aims of its Members through training, information sharing and networking opportunities.


Subscribe to one (or more) of our Committee email list

Contribute to publications and practitioner’s guides



Attending monthly meetings (optional)

Participate in the Law Reform process by contributing to submissions





Attend Committee organised events

Network with like-minded Members

Implement projects for the profession and community



Leadership opportunities


BushWeb - Regional Issues

Animal Law

Business Law

Civil Litigation

Criminal Law

Environment & Planning Law

Continuing Legal Education

Communication, Entertain- ment & Technology Law

Family Law

Human Rights

International Law

Property Law

Special Committee of Law Student Societies*

Public Law & Government

Taxation Law

Workplace & Safety Law



A DAY IN THE LIFE… The reality of legal practice in the style of Bridget Jones .

Leave for work feeling energised, confident. Yesterday managed to soothe clients, appease opposing solicitor and impress partners at work. Practice will now operate as efficient, well-oiled machine. Only nagging issue is an advice letter, which is two weeks late. Two weeks is not very long, anyway opinion has been researched, well mostly researched. Must simply look up a fewmore cases put thoughts into writing. Very easy will be finished by 10.30 am at the latest. Arrive at work, listen to repeated voice mail messages from disgruntled client, review two letters from angry opposing solicitor. Note that senior lawyer has entirely redrafted the letter I wrote. Learnt that Court of Appeal did not accept bundles because pages numbered in improper manner. Feel dismal and deflated. Stare out window. Consume engineered food bar for breakfast.

Advice letter not finished. Cannot decide whether to address client by first name. Must go to aerobics class at 1pm to relieve stress and promote fitness. Havemissed last seven classes because of work, no job is worth sacrificingmy health. Must go to Aerobics class.

Missedaerobicsclassbecauseof lastminutemeeting withvery importantnewclient.Am introducedas junior lawyerwhowillbeworkingonthefile.Client amazed,askedhowsomeonesoyoungcanpossibly bea lawyer.Grinfranticallywhiletryingtothinkof charmingbutassertiveresponse.Savedbysenior lawyer,whosteps intosingmypraisesastopnotch organiserofdiscoverydocuments.(Afterallhardto justify junior lawyersfee ifclientbelievesImerelyget thecoffeeandcopydocuments).Clientpromisesto sendover57boxesofdocumentsstraightaway.

Cameoutfromhidingspotbehindthe57boxes ofdocuments. Informsenior lawyerthatdespite mynumerousemphaticpromises,advice letter is notquitefinished.Explainthatthewarranty issue hasturnedouttobemorecomplexthanoriginally thought.Babbleonaboutcomplex lawofwarranty generally.Pauseawkwardly,Senior lawyerstared blanklythensays it isnotawarranty, itaguarantee. Am incompetentcannotbeaproper lawyer.

Have spent last hour returning voice mail messages. Will start advice letter now, will be finished by noon.


Telephone call from opposing solicitor, requesting adjournment, remind opposing solicitor that this is the fourth such request point out that I had once asked for indulgence and been denied thus causing me to work inhumane hours. Opposing solicitor appalled by my disrespectful attitude, says it is contrary to Rules of Professional Conduct. Am cruel and possibly unprofessional person, cannot be proper lawyer.

Must complete advice letter. Will not under any circumstances leave work until advice letter is a beautiful finished product.

Must still complete advice letter. Will not under any circumstances leave work until advice letter is done.

Advice letter not finished. Cannot decide whether to address client by first name. Must go to aerobics class to relieve stress and promote fitness.

Advice letter almost done. Have written succinct introductory paragraph and set out convenient headings. Nowmust just insert actual opinion. Could work until 2am to get it done. Much better, though to arrive very early next morning when mind will be fresh and rejuvenated. In fact going home is in client’s best interest as surely I will work more efficiently tomorrow. Take taxi home realised I have forgotten office password for credit charge. Must pay driver with change. Driver annoyed, refused to give receipt.

Lastremainingnon-lawyerfriendcallstoask whether Igotticketstoupcomingshowas promised.Pause.Considerhowtogetoutof promise.Speakwithbrightbossytone:YesYes I didassumeresponsibilityforthatmatter. Howeveryouundertooktoadvisemeasto whetherwewouldbe joinedbythirdparties.As thatundertakingwas leftunfulfilled. Ireasonably believedthatmyresponsibilitieshadbeenwaived. Frienddisgustedhangsupfeelpangofguilt,feel pangofemptinessbecauseoncevibrantsocial life hasdied.Stareoutofthewindow.Decidepangsare relatedtohunger.Consumeengineeredfoodbarfor dinner.Readback issuesofLawSocietyJournal.


Unfortunately, no one gets to be Atticus Finch except Gregory Peck



Despite their legal setting, shows like Boston Legal, Rake and Suits focus on unrealistic, dramatised court hearings and the romantic and personal lives of the main characters.

Y ou daydream of the day you will be a hot shot prestigious, highly regarded, corporate lawyer with an ocean front property and a happy family life. You’ve seen Boston Legal and Rake and you think that being a lawyer may be the perfect career for you– glamorous, interesting, highly prestigious, and well paid. Oh and of course there’s the sexual appeal and success demonstrable by Cleaver Green. Right? Being a lawyer is not as glamorous or exciting as portrayed by TV shows or films such as A Few Good Men or The Firm. These are far removed from the day-to-day practice as a lawyer. They are analogous to legal fictions: “A legal fiction ... is an assumption of a possible thing as a fact, which is not literally true...” 1 Glossy graduate brochures promise a future of success and endless career potential.However,(subjecttotheparticular firmor practice area), many lawyers spend the majority of their working day inside offices, behind computers, researching and drafting complex written advices, pleadings and letters and not involved in high-profile trials. 2

Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of legal precedents and theories to resolve and negotiate legal problems. You rarely get to be a hero. This can require extensive research and/or the review of many documents. Some paralegals and junior lawyers spend years reviewing and summarising entire rooms full of documents from floor to ceiling in order to establish the relevant facts in issue between the parties in disputed proceedings. In reality the first years of legal practice can consist of solitary hours in front of a computer or in isolated rooms reviewing documents. “...most of a lawyer’s time is filledwithpaperwork, interviews, research, filing and re-filingmotions and organising case files. Unfortunately, no one gets to be Atticus Finch except Gregory Peck”. 3



Attention to key to surviving and thriving


IS A LEGAL CAREER FOR ME? “There are many different pathways that can lead to rewarding careers. Remember, a choice made today is not a choice made forever. People are no longer locked into one occupation or education level...” 4 T here is likely to be more than one occupation that is right for you. Writealistofyourstrengths,abilities, interests, passions and experiences.

high entrance rank and felt pressured by your family and/or peers to study law, or because you exceeded the requisite cut-off for the course of your choice. Choose a course in which you are interested. Even if you have completed your course, think about what you want your next move to be. We all having long working lives, ones which take many different turns. Attending law school is an enormous personal and financial commitment and one that shouldnot be entered intowithout deep consideration and adequate financial and personal self-assessment. If you are serious about a career in law, evaluate your abilities, work inclinations, and personal goals. Being a lawyer can be fulfilling if you enjoy working in a team, working under pressure to meet deadlines, learning about various industries (for example health, finance, property, construction), engaging your thoughts, participating in legal debate, being involved in interesting research and resolving complex factual scenarios. You will also require good organisational skills, interpersonal skills, a good understanding of time management, (both at work and home) and of course, a passion for justice and fairness with good business acumen. Attention to detail and a thick skin is key to surviving and thriving–if you don’t have it, you will need to learn it.

Consider what your hopes and visions are for your future. Talk to people who are lawyers about their experiences and attend career exhibitions at universities and/or schools in your area. Refer to useful websites such as www.,whichisAustralia’sonline career information and exploration service. My Future provides information and tools to help people investigate career pathways. It includes comprehensive information aboutvariousoccupations,coursesandmost importantly state-by-state labour market informationwhichmayassistyouindeciding whether law is the right occupation for you. 5 Certain companies and professions (including law) will request a copy of your academic transcript and confirmation of your Universities Entrance Rank when you apply for graduate positions. To find out more on occupations, job prospects, employment growth, skill profile and average income of various occupations go to 6 “Itstandstoreasonthattheywillexcelat that which they want to study. Applying for a coursewitha lower cut-off than theATAR they achieved is not a waste of a ATAR.” 7 Don’t be persuaded to study (or practise) law just because you obtained a



in the industry and developing your everyday practice to keep up with market requirements. Youmayberequiredtodraftmarketing tenders and seek meaningful feedback from your clients in order to facilitate a more competitive and/or better service. It is also likely that you will be required to give seminars to your colleagues and your clients: “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” 10 The Billable Unit Many lawyers complain about not having control over their lives as they have to record and account for every six minutes of their working day in a time sheet (either manually or electronically) in what is referred to as the billable unit. For example, a short telephone call may only take three minutes but is disclosed to the client at the minimum unit rate of six minutes. This takes into account the time taken to access the file, review the matter in relation to the call, return the file and document the contents of the telephone call in a file note. The legal profession sells time: “Money is not just incidental to practice but it is at its core.” 11

The Hours “Without question: The single biggest complaint amongst

lawyers is increasingly long work days and decreasing time for personal and family life.” 8 You should anticipate your employer expecting you to work up to 60 hours a week as a lawyer in private practice. You may be required to meet client deadlines at short notice, to draft a letter of advice or prepare for Court at short notice. You may also be required to work late nights or weekends and to have the ability to remain focused and calm under extreme pressure. Marketing and Practice Development Lawyers in private practice are increasingly required to participate in marketing, business development and practice development. Marketing frequently involves networking in your own time, attending seminars and lunches and after work drinks with clients. “The novelty of Wagyu beef and obscure cheeses starts to wear off once recruits realise they are entertaining clients on their own time if not their own coin, making small talk with crusty old businessmen rather than spending time with real friends.” 9 You are also likely to be involved in practice development which involves keeping up-to-date with your competitors


Most lawyers working in private practice will have a billable budget target of between five to eight hours a day. There is a huge difference between your billable target hours and the hours you actually spend at work. To achieve a billable target of seven hours it is likely that you will be in the office for about nine or ten hours per day. You must practise honestly and ethically, which means billing only the time you spendworking directly onmatters for clients. Some of your working day is likely to involve non-billable work. For example, some insurance clients will not pay for internal meetings, internal emails or time spent receiving instructions from your supervisor. Other non-billable requirements in- clude marketing and practice develop- ment, learning anddevelopment, research, making numerous amendments to letters or reports or reading a file to familiarise yourself with the facts and issues. What constitutes billable and non-billable work will vary between individual firms and clients so always check with your supervisor. Junior lawyers in larger firms often work for a number of solicitors and partners who are likely tomake competing demands on their time, and you will be less likely to be able to successfully plan and manage your time and your work in order to achieve your billable targets without having to work back after hours.

The Salary 2016 has delivered positive and pleasing results. In this

constantly changing environment legal employers have demonstrated they are able to adapt, innovate and exploit opportunities both within and outside their business. Increased business activity has also fuelled the need for legal services, albeit services which are now being delivered in a variety of forms and in the most efficient manner. The report sets out various salary ranges. It reported that in: • Sydney – the mode salary for Grad- uates was $83,000 in Major Firms, $75,000 in Mid Firms, $55,000 in Small Commercial CBD Firms. • Melbourne – the mode salary for Graduates was $77,000 in Major Firms, $74,000 inMid Firms, $50,000 in Small Commercial CBD Firms • Brisbane – the mode salary for Grad- uates was $72,000 in Major Firms. 12


Be prepared to work up to 60 hours...


...a week as a lawyer in private practice



Y ou may not want to study law immediately, you may choose to take a break in your first year out of school to travel, pursue a hobby, earn money, volunteer, or gain skills and life experience before moving on to formal study (a gap year). Taking a gap year from studying to do something different may help you to think about the career you want to pursue. It can also increase your skills and life experiences, enhance your understanding of a chosen field of study, and add to your future employability.


A B C B C D D B C B C D D B B C D C B C B C D B C D D D B C B C B B C A D C B C D B C A D B C B C D D A D B C D D B C B C D B C D D B C D D B C D B C D B C D A C D D D B C B C B B C D C B C D B C D B C B C D C D D A D B C B C B B C D C B C B D C D A B C B C D D A D B C D D B C B C D B C In reality you need good grades to get a position at university to study law


STUDYING LAW If you are unable to achieve high grades and are determined to study law, consider commencing an alternative degree with a view to applying to transfer to a law degree at a later stage.

A lternatively, try contacting other accredited law schools and consider applying for an accredited diploma in law. You could also take a few years out, travel, pursue other career paths, and consider applying as amature age student at a later date. (The grades required by mature age students may be less competitive, however; check the individual requirements of each accredited law school). Before embarking on a law degree it is important to be mentally prepared for significant workloads, 15 hour days to meet work and family expectations, attend university seminars and tutorials, do hours of reading and a part-time job if you require a source of income.



Degree or Diploma 13 The first prerequisites to a career in law are theintelligence,diligenceandcommitment to undertake and successfully complete either an accreditedDiploma in Law, or an accredited law degree, such as a Bachelor of Laws, Juris Doctor or Master of Laws. The accredited law schools in NSW are: • Australian Catholic University • Charles Sturt University • Macquarie University • Southern Cross University • TOP Education Institute • University of New England • University of New South Wales • University of Newcastle • University of Notre Dame • University of Sydney • University of Technology, Sydney

How much does a law degree cost? Generally speaking a law degree will cost approximately $40,000 to $50,000 not including the costs of purchasing law textbooks or loss of salary while studying. Suggested changes to tertiary education funding may substantially increase those figures.CompletingtheGraduateDiploma of Legal Practice required for admission will add additional costs between $7,000 and $11,000. If you are a domestic student these costs can be covered by FEE-HELP, and paid back at a later stage. Law textbooks are also relatively expensive (many of which cost over $100). Second hand books are available for sale, but may contain out of date case law and/ or legislation and therefore cannot always be relied upon, unless they are the most current edition published. If you are considering moving away fromhome to study, then youwill alsohave to pay for your rental and other living costs.

• University of Wollongong • Western Sydney University


Surviving university “The first year [at university] they scare you to death, the second year they work you to death, and the third year they bore you to death.” 14 If you are fortunate enough to be accepted in an accredited course be preparedtospendalotoftimereadingcases, doing coursework andwriting assignments. For every hour spent in class you are likely to spend two to three additional hours studying. At university, your fellow law students are likely to be ambitious, competitive people. “While you are reading a ridiculously priced legal textbook, having convulsionsaboutanimpendingassessment and drowning in a mass of legal material – youmightactuallywonderwhyyouaredoing this?” 15 In order to maintain your mental health, it is important to make time for yourself; read something other than a law textbook, join a university teamor club and make sure you still have a social life. In order to avoid burnout, you may consider doing your degree part-time, alternatively if you experience difficulties during the course of your studies you may consider doing fewer subjects at a particular time or even deferring for a semester or two. There is nothing wrong with taking a little more time to complete your degree; often those that take their degree at a slower pace are able to dedicate more quality time to each subject and attain better marks. You don’t want to be burnt out before you evenbecome a lawyer!

In order to maintain your mental health, it is important to make time for yourself



First year they scare you to death


Second year they work you to death

Third year they bore you to death


Work experience can give you skills that are not attainable through mere study


SHOULD I GET LEGAL WORK EXPERIENCE WHILE AT UNIVERSITY? It is advisable to get some legal work experience whilst still at university.

T ry obtaining a position as a paralegal, law clerk, legal secretary or any other paid position within the legal industry. Practical legal experience (whether short or long term) will provide a realistic insight into the profession. It will also provide you with legal contacts, skills and experience which may assist you to obtain your first position as a lawyer. Potentially, you will also be more employable for future legal positions and/or be able to distinguish yourself from the other applicants. Furthermore, provided you work hard and perform well in that role you may also have the benefit of obtaining a professional referee from where you worked. As well as potentially increasing your future job prospects, work experience provides a real insight into the culture of a workplace which can vary markedly from job to job. Culture is madeupof thepeople, the styleofmanagement and thepsychology, attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values of the workplace. You will also become familiar with the type of work, their clients and the number of hours you will be expected to work. If you are unable to obtain a paid legal position, another alternative is a voluntary position at a community legal centre or similar organisation.



arm you with information to demonstrate that you are both keen to work at the firm and that you have a good understanding of their business. NSW Young Lawyers itself is a good way to develop a network, even before you graduate. The connections formed are valuable in many different ways and are often a good source of job information. Another option is to ask your family and friends if they are aware of any upcoming suitable positions. Thereareanumberofwaystogainwork experience before embarking on a career in law. By far, one of the most common and talked about ways is to secure a clerkship with a law firm. Though this is a common route, it is not the only route. Students are able to gain experience through many different avenues including volunteering, working in an in-house legal team, doing a volunteer placement in a government organisation, working in social justice organisations and much more. Seasonal Clerkships Most seasonal clerkships are approximately 11 weeks full-time work in the summer break between the penultimate (second to last) and final year. Clerkships are usually (but not exclusively) offered by mid to top tier law firms and they are a valuable opportunity to obtain hands on experience. Many firms provide a rotation pro- gram, and ideally a mentor each rotation,

How can I find out about legal positions?

Positions are commonly advertised on internet sites (such as, and, law society websites (see the NSW Young au/about/YoungLawyers/JobsNetwork/ index.htm), and on university andCollege of Law notice boards. Government legal positions are usually advertised in state newspapers (such as The Sydney Morning Herald) and relevant government websites (such as and au). You can also register with online job websites so that jobs fitting your criteria are emailed directly to you. Another option is to register as a temporary or casual paralegal or legal secretary, either directly with a firm or via a legal recruitment agency. Barristers’ chambers also often hire legal clerks, receptionists and legal researchers so contact your local chambers to ask if they have any potential upcoming positions. If you decide to contact a firm or chambers directly, research the people and the firm thoroughly before contacting them. You can research the firm by browsing their website, speaking to people who work there or by performing aGoogle and/or Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) search to find out what cases they have been recently involved in and the type of work they do. This will


to enable you to gain exposure and work experience across a broad range of practice areas. Students who participate in clerkships develop a greater understanding of employment opportunities and legal experience, whilst adding to their resumes. A further benefit is that youmay be offered a graduate or casual/part-time paralegal position upon completion of the clerkship. As many firms recruit their graduates directly fromtheir seasonal clerks, it is wise to apply for a seasonal clerkship, if you plan on going into private practice. To be eligible for a seasonal clerkship you must be in the penultimate year of your degree. Some exceptions may apply, however it is best to contact the firm you are applying to if you are planning to apply outside your penultimate year. When should I apply for a clerkship? In New SouthWales some firms advertise seasonal clerkship positions on ‘cvMail’, an electronic application system used by law firms around the world to advertise and process applications for graduate and seasonal clerkship positions. The Law Society ofNSWalso administersGraduate Employment and Summer Clerkship Programs for the benefit of law firms in NSW and law schools (www.legalvitae. It is important that you familiarise yourself with the relevant applicationdates for each firm. Whilst a strong academic transcript is undeniably appealing to a

prospective employer, marks alone are not enough to secure a seasonal clerkship/ graduate position. Participation in extra- curricular activities or work experience can give you skills that are not attainable through mere study. It is these skills that the law firm will seek to utilise. Internships A corporate internship is similar to a clerkship in that it provides students with a taste of what it will be like working in a multi-disciplinary professional services organisation as a graduate lawyer. Law students can often find a broad range of work experience as an intern, especially as internshipsprovidestudentswithadifferent outlook to legal work when compared to a clerkship. Interns are focused on servicing the single client in-house. Internship Structure and Aims Internships will aim to develop a number of areas, including: • Receipt of general and department- specific training through each stream (in this case, legal) • Development of skills necessary for professional growth, networking and career advancement • The opportunity to connect with and receive evaluation from colleagues and superiors • The opportunity to gain a graduate position



When should I apply for an Internship? Internships are similar to clerkships and often call for penultimate year students. Again, if you are unsure about when you should apply or whether you would be a viable applicant, is it always best to call the company and speak to a member of their HR team or recruitment specialist. When applying for an internship, students need to monitor the companies that they are interested in working for to ensure they are aware of when opportunities open and close. Internships generally do not follow a structured set of dates so it is important that students are proactive when it comes to seeking out internship opportunities. How do I apply for placements? Timeframes apply for the opening and closing of applications for graduate employment, summer clerkship and some internship positions. The making and accepting of graduate employment, seasonal clerkship and internshipoffers are in accordance with each of their respective guidelines (available on LegalVitae). Read more about legal graduate positions on page 45.

Are clerkships and internships compulsory?

If you don’t think a formal clerkship or internship program is for you, there’s no obligationtoapply.Thereareplentyofother legal work experience opportunities in other law firms, government organisations, in-house corporate teams and in the community legal sector. If you later change your mind, many organisations also have a graduate intake. You may feel that you are expected to apply for and receive a clerkship or internship offer (especially clerkships), as they are heavily promoted by law firms and a common topic of discussion between students around June to September. However there are many different ways to enter the legal profession. What if I miss out on a clerkship or internship? Many law students are unsuccessful in obtaining clerkship or internship positions as there are simply not enough places available. If you are one of the unsuccessful candidates don’t become disheartened. Formal clerkship and internship programs are not the only way to obtain legal experience “The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity.” 16


If your clerkship or internship app- lication is unsuccessful, it is a good idea to contact theHumanResources department to seek feedback. The feedback you receive may assist you in improving your resume and interview technique for future applications. Try to obtain some other form of legal work experience. Keep in mind that completing an internship or clerkship is not a pre-requisite for gaining graduate employment. If you are initially unable to obtain a paid legal position, consider applying for voluntary positions within community legal centres or other non-profit legal organisations. These positions usually provide excellent legal opportunities and experience. Voluntary work is an excellent way of experiencing new challenges and providing a valuable service to the community. A variety of organisations rely on volunteers and it can be a great way to build new skills and add to work experience. For more information see

Remember to contact the

Human Resources department to seek feedback, which may assist you in improving your resume and interview technique for the future


Practising Certificate

Practical Legal Training

Academic Qualification

Be mentally prepared before embarking on a law degree


ELIGIBILITY FOR ADMISSION Upon completion of your degree, in order to be eligible for admission to practice law, it is necessary to complete Practical Legal Training (PLT).

S ome universities incorporate the Practical Legal Training (PLT) requirements into the course requirements of your degree but if your university course does not offer this then you must attend a college such as the College of Law or ANU College of Law to complete your PLT. Prior to being admitted as a solicitor you will generally be required to obtain two written references on your character, reputation and suitability for admission as a lawyer, including your honesty and integrity. If youhave a criminal convictionor a history of unethical dealings your admission as a legal practitioner may be declined. Upon completion of the relevant Academic Requirements and the PLT, you are eligible to apply for admission as a solicitor. See the LPABwebsite formore informationwww.lpab.justice.



Admission Requirements Admission of lawyers in New SouthWales is governed by the Legal Profession Uniform Admission Rules 2015 (NSW) and Part 2.2 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW). For admission, you need to: 17 1. meet the academic requirements; 2. meet the Practical Legal Training (PLT) requirements; 3. meet the character test; 4. submit your application and pay the admission fees; and 5. attend the admission ceremony. 1. Academic Requirements You need to have sufficient academic training in the following areas of know- ledge: 18 • Criminal Law and Procedure • Torts • Contracts • Property • Equity • Company Law • Administrative Law • Federal and State Constitutional Law • Civil Procedure • Evidence • Ethics and Professional Responsibility Usually this is met by the completion of a law degree (LLB or JD – three years full- time) or the Legal Profession Admission Board (LPAB) Diploma in Law (four years part-time).

2. Practical Legal Training Requirements

PracticalLegalTraining(PLT)isastructured training program that will develop your practical skills andproficiency in the day-to- day practice of law. It is usually undertaken at the completion of your law degree and is an essential requirement for admission as a lawyer inAustralia. Successful completion of a PLT program leads to the award of a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP), whichmakes you eligible to apply for admission as a legal practitioner in your jurisdiction. In New South Wales the PLT require- ments include both structured and super- vised training and workplace experience. 19 The training includes: • Lawyer’s Skills • Problem Solving • Work Management and Business Skills • Trust and Office Accounting • Civil Litigation Practice • Commercial and Corporate Practice • Property Law Practice • Ethics and Professional Responsibility • Two of the following electives: • Administrative Law Practice

• Banking and Finance • Criminal Law Practice • Consumer Law Practice • Employment and Industrial Relations Practice • Family Law Practice


Visit for more information and the current admission fees. As of 1 August 2016, the fee for admission was $920.25. 21 5. Admission ceremony If the LPAB approves your application, you can schedule a date to attend an admission ceremony at the Supreme Court of New South Wales. You must organise for a person to “move” your admission at the ceremony. This person must be on the Roll of Legal Practitioners in NSW at the time of your admission, or must be an Australian legal practitioner holding a current practising certificate. Once your admission is moved, you are called to give the oath/affirmation of office. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ofNewSouthWalesmakes a speech, and then you proceed to the ground floor foyer to sign the Supreme Court Roll and collect your certificate of admission. At this point you are a “lawyer”.However, youneed to apply for a practising certificate from the Law Society of NSW to engage in legal practice and you need supervision for the equivalent of two years full-time practice.

• Planning and Environmental Law Practice • Wills and Estates Practice

The training takes approximately three months full-time or eightmonths part-time. Workplace experience requires around 75 working days (15 weeks) of supervised experience in the delivery of legal services. 3. Character test You need to demonstrate that you are a fit and proper person to be admitted to the Australian legal profession with: • a National Police History Check; • two independent character references; • law student conduct reports; • answers to questions on suitability; and • disclosures of any relevant matters affecting suitability (the honesty and candour of such disclosures are also assessed). The LPAB also conducts its own inquiries on candidates for admission. 20 4. Application and fees Students can apply for admission as a lawyer online after September 2016. You will need to sign up to use the online Admission Portal. Benefits include: • Faster processing times for most applicants • No deadlines for most applicants • Fewer documents to lodge • More frequent admission ceremonies



Get the latest news, resources and tips with Graduate Services Facebook page


GRADUATE SERVICES A department within the Law Society designed to help Law Students and Graduates forge a successful career in the legal industry. The department brings you key resources through StudentHub, the Graduate Services Facebook page and LegalVitae, the new jobs platform for law students and graduates. StudentHub StudentHub is a free and comprehensive resource website pioneered by the Law Society of NSWand NSWYoung Lawyers. The site is designed to assist law students and recent graduates in forging a successful career in the legal industry. Covering key areas to assist you on your journey, StudentHub (www.lawsociety. provides information on: • NSW Young Lawyers – The largest body of young and newly practising lawyers and law students in Australia • Getting your career started – Letting you know how varied the legal industry is • Professional Skills – Video series designed to answer any questions law students and graduates have regarding practice, career options and law school • Graduate Employment and Summer Clerkship Programs – A streamlined and structured recruitment process connecting law firms and law students • LegalVitae – A job board where you will find all legal positions available to you • Resources and Articles – Designed to help you learn about how to maximise employment opportunities and secure your ideal positions. Stay Connected Stay connected and engaged with the Law Society of NSW’s Graduate Services. You can receive regular updates on initiatives, services, job opportunities and events by following the Law Society of NSW’s Graduate Services on: graduateservices.



The Law Society of NSW will pair you with a suitable match based on the responses in your application and region you select within New South Wales. The program starts in February each year. As part of your introduction you will be invited to attend a workshop event or webinar where you will be provided with an overview of mentoring and helpful tools to use during your Mentoring Program. You may be invited to attend events and/ or webinars where you can network with others involved in the Law Society of NSW Graduate Mentoring Program. Throughout the program you will meet with your mentor/mentee on at least a monthly basis to discuss the objectives you have set together. You will manage your time, schedules, and outcomes with each other. The Law Society of NSW will be available for support, but ultimately it is your responsibility to manage and maintain your relationship with your mentor/mentee. Youwillreceiveregularcommunications via the online platform from the Law Society of NSW, giving you helpful tips, articles, experiences and informationabout mentoring or other relevant topics. Throughout the program you will be invited to provide feedback to the Law Society about your experience.

Graduate Mentoring Program About the program

The graduate mentoring program unites final year law students and first year graduates with young lawyers, who are within two to five years of practice. These mentors will provide support and guidance as you transition from a student into the profession. The Mentoring Program offers a valuable members service, assisting final year law students and graduates to make a connection with a young lawyer to be supported in their transition into the professioninaconfidential,non-judgmental environment. It provides a mechanism for practitioners to manage mental and career wellbeing, through involvement in a mutually beneficial professional development relationship. It also facilitates sharing of different perspectives of the profession, by different generations. The program supports 100 pairs (100 Mentors and 100 Mentees) to participate

in the program. What is involved?

Please refer to the Law Society of NSW StudentHub website for details on when applications open, key activities and program duration.


Please note, we will endeavour to find suitable matches. However, this is not guaranteed. Commitment As a participant of the program you will be expected to commit to the following: • Attending a training session or if you are regionally based a webinar held by the Law Society of NSW. • Meeting at least once a month with your mentor/mentee. Ideally this will take place face to face. • Between meetings you will commit to actively working on agreed goals or actions. • Completing evaluation forms to provide feedback to the Law Society of NSW. Contact us For more information and to apply to be part of the graduate mentoring program please visit: gradmentoring Please direct any queries to the Law Society ofNSWon: (02) 99260333or email

Benefits of the program For Mentors: • Developing your mentoring skills such as providing feedback, coaching, communication, and interpersonal skills • Contributing back to the profession • Staying abreast of emerging issues relevant to the professional • Mentoring hours qualify as CPD hours for professional development For Mentees: • Experienced guidance and support in the profession • Excellent networking opportunities • Receiving feedback and coaching • Development of communication skills • Identifying professional growth and development areas Criteria To be eligible to apply as a Mentor in the program you MUST meet the following criteria: • Within two to five years or more as a practising Lawyer • To be eligible to apply as a Mentee in the program you MUST meet ONE or more of the following criteria: • You are in your final year of study of an accredited law course, or • You are within 12 months of comp- leting your law degree, or • You are undertaking your PLT comp- onent, or • You are within your first year of employment.


Looking to find the right job with a law degree? Welcome to LegalVitae The new jobs portal targeted at matching law students and graduates with legal jobs.

Start your journey in law at



Made with