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by Vault Law Editors | March 10, 2009

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The path to lawyerdom

There are a variety of different paths one can take to become a lawyer in Australia, with roughly 30 law schools in the country. The primary divide is between studying law as an undergraduate or as a post-graduate.

Most schools offer a "double degree" undergraduate program lasting from five to six years, in which time students undertake two undergraduate degrees; an LL.B. and an additional degree such as a B.A. The net effect is similar to undertaking separate undergraduate degrees and then completing a graduate law degree. In addition, schools in the country offer a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) as a four-year undergraduate degree. However, the "double degree" programs are generally more popular than undertaking an LL.B. alone. Most young lawyers have more than one tertiary qualification.

A smaller number of schools offer either a three-year graduate LL.B. program or a two-to-three-year graduate Juris Doctor (J.D.) program. These programs are becoming increasingly popular; however, most schools that offer these programs still run an undergraduate program as well. In 2008, the University of Melbourne became the first school in Australia to offer only a J.D. degree, and other Australian schools could soon follow suit.

While enrolled in law school, many students gain experience by working for law firms in positions known as vacation clerkships. On the eastern seaboard, clerkship schemes are state-regulated. Most students undertake vacation clerkships in their second-to-last year of study. Students who excel in these clerkships are often offered jobs with a firm in their final year of study. Students can find information about clerkships and other opportunities at career fairs, such as the annual Sydney Law Careers Fair, in which firms from Australia and around the world advertise and recruit for their programs. The other main source of information about legal careers is each school's law student society.

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Filed Under: Law

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