The future of the legal job market
Professor Tania Sourdin addresses misconceptions about job outcomes for students and the impact the changing nature of technology has on the legal industry.
Designed for university graduates, Newcastle Law School’s Juris Doctor (JD) and the embedded Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (GDLP) will not only open doors to employment as a lawyer, it will provide you with professional skills and attributes that are in high demand in other industries and professions.
At most other law schools, after you finish your JD you must then undertake practical legal training and arrange supervised legal workplace experience before you can apply to be a lawyer. As part of the embedded GDLP, we provide the required practical legal training and we guarantee to arrange the required supervised legal workplace experience for you. This means you can be ready to practise law after three years of full time study, with no need for further supervision or training before you start your legal career.
The JD/GDLP is not only accredited in Australia; with some further study it can help qualify you to practise law in a number of other common law countries, including Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The Juris Doctor (JD) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice comprises 280 units (i.e 28 x 10 unit courses), which includes 210 units of core courses including the Legal Practice courses, plus 70 units of directed courses chosen from a list of 40 courses (subject to availability).
Students can choose directed courses that they are interested in from a range of areas including (subject to availability):
Eligible students will have the opportunity to broaden their cross-cultural skills and comparative legal knowledge by travelling overseas to participate in an international study experience and/or an international legal internship. Past courses have covered a wide range of countries and interest areas, including: comparative environmental law in Brazil; child and family law practice in Cambodia; clinical legal practice in China; comparative environmental and employment law in Indonesia; and criminal law practice in Vietnam.
In addition to the supervised legal work experience you will gain through our legal practice program, you can gain additional in-depth practical experience by participating in one of our customised Legal Clinics exploring a range of areas, including:
Environmental/natural resources law
Learn how to enforce the key legislative instruments relevant to Australia’s natural resources – water, native vegetation, forests, minerals, threatened species and land. There are also opportunities to gain experience in drafting submissions to law reform commissions, parliamentary bodies and other organisations.
Social justice/public interest law
Build your skills in communication, research, drafting and advocacy while working on social justice and public interest legal cases. For example, students taking this clinic have assisted asylum seekers to apply to be accepted into Australia as refugees.
At Newcastle Law School we pride ourselves on the high quality of our teaching. In particular, in Professor Tania Sourdin, Professor Lisa Toohey and Professor Laurence Boulle we have Australia's leading team of academic and practitioner experts in dispute resolution, all globally recognised for their contribution to this field. Our dispute resolution courses teach skills in legal negotiation, communication, mediation and conciliation. This is of great benefit to our students – effective lawyers require high-level skills in dispute resolution since the overwhelming majority of legal disputes settle outside of court.
Many of our other academic staff have also received national and/or university-level awards that recognise the very high quality of their teaching, including Associate Professor Amy Maguire, Dr Elena Aydos, Professor John Anderson, Associate Professor Neil Foster, Shaun McCarthy and Dr Tim Connor.
Some of our students take our directed (elective) course in competitive mooting and complete the assessment requirements for that course by competing against other law schools in national mooting (mock court) competitions.
Getting a place in the competitive mooting course is, well, competitive. But if you miss out there are many other opportunities to compete in national legal skills competitions on an extra-curricular basis. University of Newcastle law students frequently excel in these competitions. Recent highlights include:
Have you previously completed a law degree in a jurisdiction outside Australia? If so, you may be eligible for up to 80 units of credit in the JD/GDLP program, significantly reducing its cost. Similarly, if you have completed postgraduate courses in law in Australia (e.g. as part of a Juris Doctor program at another Australian university) you will likely be able to gain credit for at least some of those courses. Students who are awarded credit and start the program mid-year (in the Winter Term) can potentially complete the JD/GDLP program in 2.5 years.
Download a program plan for further details on your degree's structure and what courses you will study.
These program plans are applicable to new students. Current students should refer to the program handbook to access the plan relevant to the year they commenced.
"Upon graduation, I started working at Maddocks Lawyers in Sydney in the construction and projects team. Every law program provides students with a knowledge of legal concepts. However, the University of Newcastle’s JD/GDLP also gives you the opportunity to develop your practical skills and get involved in real life cases. Whether that be by cross examining a witness in a real court room or acting for community groups trying to protect their local environment, the program gives you a great opportunity to apply what you have been learning in the classroom and to see how law is done in the 'real world'. It is a great program and has given me the opportunity to work in a leading firm and to contribute to society in a meaningful way. I highly recommend it to all that I meet."
Ben Gunter, Maddocks Lawyers, Sydney
Newcastle Law School is the only law school in Australia that both runs its own legal centre and directly provides students with the practical legal training and much of the supervised clinical legal experience required to qualify to practise law.
As part of the GDLP, students undertake 285 hours of legal professional workplace experience. A minimum of 105 hours of that practical experience is undertaken at the University of Newcastle Legal Centre (UNLC), under the supervision of the Law School’s solicitors – either in the legal centre itself or as part of our ‘Law on the Beach’ program during the summer term. Students have intensive interaction with clients and extensive real client casework including drafting letters, submissions, undertaking research, drafting court documents and appearing in court with a UNLC lawyer. This is very attractive to potential employers and gives Newcastle graduates a significant advantage.
Law School staff also assist students to arrange external placements to make up the remaining 180 required professional training hours. The Law School arranges external practical legal training placements for all students who seek assistance in organising their placement during the final year of the program. Students are offered a variety of legal environments from small private firms to large government organisations. Some examples of placement locations include:
"Studying law at Newcastle was a great adventure for me. I love the city and I am proud of the education I received. I really appreciated the personal connection between professors and students, and the opportunity to receive extensive supervised practical training made it well worth spending three years to obtain a comprehensive legal education. On my return to Canada, I was able to complete the relevant exams and start my legal career."
David Lotimer, Counsel and Project Manager at Lotek Wireless Inc., Canada
Our JD/GDLP is accredited by the Legal Profession Admission Board (LPAB) of New South Wales. It provides you with all of the academic study, practical legal training and supervised workplace experience necessary to apply to practice as a lawyer, subject to the ‘fit and proper person’ test.
For more details on that test, see the Legal Profession Admission Board’s ‘Guide for Applicants’, or for specific inquiries please contact the LPAB.
After taking some additional steps to satisfy the relevant accreditation requirements, our graduates can also practise law in a number of other common law countries. For example, over the years many Canadian students have chosen to study law at Newcastle and then have returned home to practise law in a Canadian common law jurisdiction. The Canadian National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) explains the assessment process in greater detail. In the past, when the NCA has assessed our graduates’ legal qualifications it has required our graduates to sit some additional exams in Canadian law. Our graduates have been able to draw on the legal skills they gained while studying with us to prepare for and successfully pass those exams. As noted in the NCA’s Policies and Guidelines, graduates of three-year law degree programs (such as our JD/GDLP) generally have less requirements to satisfy than graduates of two-year law degree programs.
Similarly, if you are potentially interested in undertaking our JD/GDLP and then practising law in one of the following common law countries, we suggest you consult with the following:
Graduating with the Juris Doctor (JD) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice gives you the skills and knowledge to practice as a lawyer, and is also the springboard to a range of exciting professional careers. The Dean of the Law School, Professor Tania Sourdin, has recently written an article on the future of the legal job market and job prospects for law graduates.
Take a look at the options below to find out more about your career opportunities with your law degree.
The following list provides some example jobs available to graduates of a Juris Doctor/Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice. Some of these jobs will depend on the amount and level of study undertaken, level of experience, the combination of other majors and electives studied, while some may require further study.
Graduates are also able to use the transferable skills gained in their studies to work outside the field of Law. In some instances, further study and/or work experience may be required.
Undertaking studies in law not only prepares graduates for a career in the legal profession but a huge variety of other roles in sectors ranging from government and business to media and the arts. Graduates often find that this qualification provides a competitive advantage when applying for a variety of roles as many employers value its emphasis on analytical thinking and logical reasoning. Listed below is a sample of some of these job titles.
The University of Newcastle is a multi-campus institution offering programs in a number of locations.
Our campuses are a rich, bustling hive of activity where there is always something going on. Find out what activities you can take part in at UON.
Listen to our students talk about their degree and life at the University of Newcastle.
We provide a range of support and services to help you get into uni, successfully complete your studies and get a job when you finish.
To ensure that the process goes smoothly for you, you should complete the following steps before applying:
You will be considered for entry based on criteria such as your undergraduate studies and/or equivalent prior learning and/or relevant work experience.
Make sure you double check the special entry requirements, assumed knowledge or recommended studies for the degree:
Entry to the JD/GradDipLegPrac is available to students who have one of the following qualifications with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 4.0 or above:
Students who have gained one of the above qualifications from a University outside of Australia in the discipline of law with a GPA of 4.0 or above can be admitted.
Students with a Bachelor of Laws degree from an Australian University cannot be admitted.
Applicants with one of the above qualifications with a GPA of 3.5 may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Students with an overseas law degree qualification can apply for up to 80 units of specified or unspecified credit through recognition of prior learning.
Where a student seeks specified credit for one or more of the eleven courses normally required for admission to practice law in Australia (known as the Priestley 11), then this will be considered where applicants have satisfied the NSW Legal Profession Admissions Board (or the equivalent body in another Australian state) that courses completed at the relevant overseas institution are substantially equivalent to the courses for which they are seeking specified credit.
All Applicants must demonstrate that they meet the University’s English proficiency requirement. Further information regarding English language proficiency requirements can be found at the English Language Proficiency for Admission Policy here.
Applicants for this program must satisfy a minimum English Language Proficiency Standard equivalent to an IELTS overall minimum of 7.0 with no subtest result below 6.5.
It is a requirement that students complete a total of 285 hours professional placement which includes at least 105 hours at the UoN Legal Centre.
You can look at Uni prep for options to brush up on knowledge before you start.
Applications to study are now open. Submit your application now.
The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.