How to practise in Australia
Australia has a common law legal system very similar to that of the UK. Each state is a separate legal jurisdiction with its' own powers, constitution, courts and professional bodies. As in the UK, the profession is split in each state between barristers and solicitors but it is not as pronounced as the position in the UK. Solicitors are regulated at state level by law societies and must belong to a state professional body (i.e. Law Society) to be permitted to practice.
At a federal level there is an overarching legal system consisting of federal courts, and a solicitor admitted to a state jurisdiction can practice at a federal level. When federal and state laws conflict, federal law overrides state law if consistent with the guidelines of the Federal Constitution.
As of 2011, there are approximately 59, 280 solicitors and approximately 5,000 barristers in Australia. A recent study on the profile of solicitors in Australia was commissioned by law societies across Australia.
The legal profession in Australia is regulated under state and territory laws. In most jurisdictions, there is a system of co-regulation that actively involves both the government and the profession in the regulation of lawyers. Since 2009, Australian governments have been exploring how the legal profession could move towards a more national model and these reform processes remain underway.
In some jurisdictions, lawyers can practice as both barristers and solicitors. In others, the traditional separation between barristers (advocates) and solicitors remains.
If you need to check the credentials of an Australian lawyer, please see our quick guide.
Details of Australian regulators can be found on our links page.
Details about Australian legal profession reform project can be found on:
English law degrees are generally recognised in Australia, but further re-qualification may be required depending on individual state or territory rules. For details, please refer to the information for foreign lawyers provided by the Law Council of Australia.