Education is big business in Australia, with tertiary level education contributing some $140 billion to the national economy in 2014. The following year, Australian universities educated 1.3 million students and employed around 120 000 full-time equivalent staff. In that same year, 14 600 law graduates were looking for legal work in the domestic market. This was a rise of some 9%, or 1200 lawyers, from the previous year. This more than doubled the average 4% growth in the number of practicing solicitors around the nation. What is driving this increase in the number of lawyers wishing to practice law?
The Path to Becoming a Lawyer in Australia
It is the increasing popularity of post-graduate law courses, which is fuelling this surge in the number of potential solicitors and barristers. 8200 lawyers came out of post-graduate law courses in 2014 versus 6400 Bachelor of law finishers. It is estimated that there are some 42 law schools operating in Australia, as of 2016. In stark contrast to this surge in potential lawyers in this country, the employment rate for lawyers has tanked with 25% of law graduates not finding work for around 4 months after achieving their qualification.
Despite the less than rosy outlook for law graduates in Australia, they are still better off than the average Bachelor degree graduate in terms of getting a job within their desired profession. Some law firms are receiving as many as 200 applications for a handful of positions offered. The highly competitive nature of the industry means that prospective graduate lawyers require some stand-out features to get work in the top shops. These may be exceptional grades and/or extracurricular achievements. An Adelaide law firm Adlawgroup tried to charge fees of $22 000 for work experience for junior lawyers, but this was defeated by industry pressure.
Adelaide lawyer Roberto Clemente knows what it takes to succeed in the law and has worked diligently for that success. Hard work, long hours and a passion for the law, are all prerequisites in his book. The path to becoming a lawyer in Australia will not get any easier, in fact, it will get harder, as the competition continues to increase within this exciting industry. Slip and fall compensation cases, are an example of how the law intersects everyday lives in this country; and their increasing popularity defines the growth in the business of law. Study hard and engage with your community, these are two recipes for success in the business and life of the law.