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I’m a lawyer.

Earlier this month I was admitted as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of NSW. It was a nice occasion – my parents flew down from Queensland, there was all the pomp and ceremony one would expect, and the ceremony itself was conducted in the Banco Court by the Chief Justice of NSW.

I'm a lawyer!

I’m a lawyer!

A few of the reasons I haven’t posted in a while are that I’ve been ridiculously busy at work, and since my admission I’ve been contemplating my future.

What am I going to do now that I’ve been admitted? The short answer, at least for the time being, is “not much.” I am just about to reach 9 years of service with my current employer. If I quit now I do not receive any long service leave. If I stay until I reach 10 years of service I become entitled to 2 months paid leave.

Whilst I am eager to begin my legal career, I would be stupid to quit now instead of working a further 12 months and receiving 2 months paid leave. The long service leave may also allow me to fulfil a dream of mine to cycle around Australia raising money for charity and talking to children and young people about the benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet.

So that’s where I’m at – I will keep working with my current employer for the time being, complete the Master of Laws, receive my long service leave and then see where the road takes me.

Another factor that I have taken into consideration is that job prospects for law gradates at the moment are not particularly good. There seems to be a significant oversupply of law graduates.  This recent submission by the Law Society of South Australia provides a good overview of the problems facing new lawyers. For an in-depth discussion from the perspective of students/graduates see these three Whirlpool forum posts РPart 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone – may 2014 be full of love, joy and happiness for you all! ūüôā

Inspiration and the study of law

I love hearing from people who visit my site.

Recently I added a Contact me page so that it would provide a simple and quick way for visitors to get in touch with me. I don’t bite so if you have some time I’d love to hear from you!

A week ago I received an email from a young man named Ahmad, who said:

I have come across your website today and you have truly inspired me. I am a recent graduate from TAFE in a Diploma of IT Systems Administration and it has only been one year on after my HSC. I am now currently looking for an entry-level role in IT to save a bit of money for the Diploma in Law and I was planning to follow your path before I even came across your site. However your site has truly inspired me and I confirmed to myself I can do it. Especially because I do have an interest in law. If you could share with me any experiences or recommendations about my pathway to law it would be much appreciated.

To my knowledge I’ve never been an inspiration to anyone before and so it was a real pleasure to receive the above message and I’m glad that my story has resonated with someone enough to push them to following their dreams in to law.

For those who don’t know, the Diploma in Law course offers a flexible method of entry into the legal profession and also to further study such as the Master of Laws.

The Diploma in Law course pre-dates law degrees offered by Australian universities, with the present-day predecessor first established in 1848.

If, like me, you misspent your high school years chasing girls and generally being a juvenile delinquent but still have a desire to practice law, the Diploma in Law course may be for you.

I say may be because studying law is not for everyone. It requires an incredible amount of reading, dedication and diligence. Most people undertaking the course already work full time and/or have families. Study will eat into whatever precious free time you have and reduce it even further. To do this year in, year out for at least 4 years requires great perseverance.

There are also financial considerations.

Each subject (as of writing) costs $675.00. So at a minimum you are looking at $13,500.00 excluding textbooks. Most recommended textbooks for each subject I purchased (~$300.00 per subject), however most are available to borrow from the law library, and the University of Sydney has a very good second hand textbook noticeboard where you can pick up current textbooks at greatly reduced prices.

Even once you complete the Diploma in Law you’ll still need to complete a Practical Legal Training course, such as that offered by¬†the College of Law¬†(~$8000.00). It is at the PLT course where¬†you learn how to introduce yourself to the court, advocate on behalf of your client, interview potential clients, manage trust accounts etc… – i.e. all the interesting stuff that you don’t learn in textbooks!

As part of PLT you’ll also¬†need to satisfy the work experience component, which currently means 75 days under supervision. Only then, with your Diploma in one hand, completion of PLT and work experience in the other, can you then¬†apply to be admitted to practice law. I say¬†apply because you still have to be deemed to be a fit and proper person in order to be admitted as a lawyer, and this is at the discretion of the admitting authority – the Legal Profession Admission Board.

So even after $20,000.00+, 4+ years of study and sacrifice and 75 days of work experience, entry to the profession is not guaranteed. That is why I would say if you are considering studying law be acutely aware of the sacrifices that you will have to make – both personal and financial – and the time and effort you’ll need to dedicate¬†to¬†not only pass subjects but to do¬†well.

Even if you don’t plan to go on to practice as a lawyer, studying law provides you with invaluable analytical, research, evaluation, reasoning, lateral thinking and written and oral communication skills that can be used in countless other facets of life.

Ultimately the advice I gave to Ahmed came down to this:

Studying law is a long, hard road but one that is extremely rewarding and you will make friends that you’ll have for the rest of your life. Good luck!

Only 4 sleeps until Santa! ūüôā