Lawyer or Solicitor
Lawyers advise, conduct negotiations for, and represent individuals, businesses, and government agencies in legal matters and disputes.
What does a Lawyer or Solicitor do?
Lawyers advise, conduct negotiations for, and represent individuals, businesses, and government agencies in legal matters and disputes. Qualified lawyers practise as solicitors or barristers, depending on the State in which they practise and the sort of legal work that they do.
As a solicitor, you would:
- meet with clients to gather information and take instructions
- advise clients on the law and legal matters relating to their case
- draft letters, contracts or documents based on the client's needs
- research similar cases to guide your current work
- supervise junior solicitors and paralegals
- act on behalf of your clients, and prepare cases for court as necessary
- instruct barristers to appear in court in cases requiring specialist expertise
- attend mediation or arbitration on behalf of your client
- calculating claims for damages, compensation, and family maintenance
- complete timesheets and other billing and charges documentation
- take referrals from, or give referrals to, other solicitors when a conflict of interest arises
- keep up to date with changes and developments in your area of the law.
As a barrister, you would also:
- provide legal advice in relation to specialist or complex matters
- plead cases in a court of law or tribunal on behalf of the client or the client's solicitor.
Key skills and interests
To become a lawyer, you would need:
- a passion for justice and fairness
- strong spoken and written communication skills
- self confidence and public speaking skills
- the ability to absorb and analyse large amounts of information
- a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- the ability to explain legal matters clearly to non-experts
- confidence and a persuasive manner
- the ability to work under pressure
- time management and strong organisational skills
- good business acumen.
Working hours and conditions
You would normally work a standard number of hours per week. Long working hours are very common in the law. In some jobs you may be on call on weekends and public holidays, or need to attend police stations at any time of the day or night.
You would mainly be based in an office, and might need to travel to visit clients. Criminal law specialists spend a lot of time in court, and often need to travel to prisons to meet clients.
How to become an Lawyer or Solicitor?
Entry Level Education
To become a lawyer you usually have to complete a degree in law at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent with English. You can also undertake a combined degree in law and another discipline. The prerequisite subjects required for entry into these combined courses also depend on the chosen non-law component..
In order to be eligible for admission to practice law, it is necessary to complete an accredited program of practical legal training (PLT) on completion of your degree. On completion of the required academic and practical legal training you may apply to the Supreme Court in your State for admission as a lawyer.
In some States, you can also become a lawyer by completing an accredited Diploma in Law, followed by a period of practical legal training.
To work as a barrister you must have a Barrister's Practising Certificate, which requires undertaking Bar exams and a specialist course, as well as examination by the relevant State legal admissions board.
Employment of lawyers is projected to remain neutral.
Competition for jobs should continue to be strong because more students graduate from law schools each year than there are jobs available. Low level work will increasingly be done online using overseas resources also creating less roles available locally in Australia.