The University of Newcastle, Australia

So, you’re thinking about whether to do a law degree and you’ve got a big question on your mind – “how would it impact on my job prospects?”

In recent years, there has been increasing discussion around the future of the legal job market and the job prospects for law graduates. Head of School and Dean of Newcastle Law School, Professor Tania Sourdin is here to address the misconceptions surrounding job outcomes for students and the impact the changing nature of technology is having on the legal industry.

The first misconception is the notion that there are no jobs for graduating lawyers. With 94.7% of Bachelor of Laws/Diploma of Legal Practice graduates in full-time employment four months after completing their degree*, this is simply not the case.

“Newcastle Law School is proud to have one of the highest employment rates for graduating law students in Australia. One of the reasons our graduates are more likely to gain employment sooner than others is because of our unique and leading clinical approach.

“Students start with clinical skills-based work at the commencement of their studies. This extensive work experience and practical, hands-on learning means that as soon as our students finish their law degree, they are qualified and ready to work as lawyers.

“We know that the roles that lawyers venture into have changed over time – with many working in management positions, human resources, business and government, in-house counsel or in dispute resolution areas.

“While some graduates may not work as solicitors or barristers, they do use their legal skills and knowledge in their lines of work. That’s why we ensure our law programs are comprehensive, relevant and able to be applied to roles across a range of environments,” said Prof Sourdin.

In addressing the perception that there will be less jobs in the future for lawyers and that new technologies are replacing the work of lawyers, Prof Sourdin’s opinion is contrary to this. She believes technology can have a beneficial impact on the legal services industry and that the law programs at the University of Newcastle are embracing forward-thinking education to remain abreast of changes in technology.

“Whilst technological changes will impact employment across society, there is still a strong need for law graduates who can decipher information, analyse, problem solve, collaborate and manage issues.

“Newcastle Law School has recently – in consultation with employers – updated curriculum so that our law graduates’ skills are responsive to a changing environment and to ensure that our students are future-ready.

“As in most countries, there is a tremendous amount of unmet legal need in Australia – a great many people need legal help but simply cannot afford it. That’s where experts in artificial intelligence and lawyers can come together.

“Programs are being developed that will assist lawyers in providing legal services quicker and in a more cost-effective manner. Rather than taking jobs from lawyers, it’s therefore likely that these new technologies will assist lawyers to reach more people with the legal help they need.

“Newcastle Law School is assisting our students to build their skills so they can be part of this revolution in legal services, in doing so we are the first Australian law school to offer a course in legal innovation and design,” said Prof Sourdin.

The future is bright for graduates of the University of Newcastle and the Newcastle Law School. Your studies will prepare you for a rewarding career no matter the path you choose – conventional or not – and you’ll graduate with the knowledge, skills and experience needed to thrive.

*Percentage of graduates in full-time employment who were available for full-time employment, Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018, Social Research Centre. Note: some graduates progress to other study or take leave post degree.

See further information from the Council of Australian Law Deans regarding 2018 law school graduate numbers and outcomes (PDF, 209KB). Research conducted by Professor Tania Sourdin and researchers at the Newcastle Law School.

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Tania Sourdin

Professor Tania Sourdin

Professor Sourdin believes the future is bright for graduates of the Newcastle Law School.

Newcastle Law School is proud to have one of the highest employment rates for graduating law students in Australia. One of the reasons our graduates are more likely to gain employment sooner than others is because of our unique and leading clinical approach.