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 non-legal careers.
As a graduate you will have the flexibility to tailor a career path that matches your professional, financial and lifestyle aspirations.
You will also receive an excellent general education, giving you an understanding of how society functions, and equipping you with analytical and logical reasoning skills. From the boardroom or political campaign trail, to the journalist’s desk or United Nations headquarters, a law degree from the University of Newcastle can lead you almost anywhere.
Students will be eligible to practice law in Australia upon completion of the program*.
Practice as a lawyer
Lawyers are responsible for providing clients with legal advice and expertise. This includes helping clients with legal problems, advising them of their legal rights and obligations, and drafting documents such as contracts, affidavits and other court forms. Lawyers also appear in Court and as advocates to represent their clients and run hearings.
Depending on your employment situation, you may practice across a variety of different areas or choose to specialise in one or two areas. Traditional practice areas include:
Wills and estates
Our society is governed by laws and regulations. Therefore, it is not surprising that political, social and technological developments often give rise to new legal practice areas. As a lawyer, you can also practice in developing areas such as:
Computer and internet law
Climate change law
Energy and resource law
Human rights law
Become a barrister
Instead of becoming a lawyer, you can practice law as a barrister. Barristers provide clients with expert legal advice and usually specialise in only one or two areas of the law.
Your primary role as a barrister is to be an advocate for your client and to take responsibility for arguing a case before the court. The best barristers have a reputation as being eloquent public speakers, and usually have an excellent understanding of procedure, tactics and the rules of evidence.
As a barrister, you are often involved in more complex legal matters. You may often give advice on the drafting of forms and documents, but are rarely involved in the initial preparatory work of a case.
It is typically a client’s lawyer who will engage a barrister to provide expert counsel, particularly when it is clear that a matter is going to proceed to a hearing.
Many barristers first practice as lawyers to gain the necessary experience and professional connections before joining the Bar.
Go into private practice
Working in private practice ranges from being an employee, owner or partner in a sole practitioner firm to working in a large, top-tier firm with international offices, dozens of partners and hundreds of employees.
Become a government lawyer
Government lawyers perform a variety of duties depending on the role of the department in which they are employed. For example, lawyers employed by the Department of Defence may have to advise on international and military law. Government lawyers are also involved in research, policy development, law reform and drafting legislation.
Pursue corporate or 'in-house' law
Large corporations employ lawyers to provide legal services tailored exclusively to their business needs. These services may include representation in litigation matters, company law advice, advice on complying with occupational health and safety laws, and drafting contracts and other company documents.
Work in legal aid/ community legal centres
These organisations provide legal services to members of the community who are disadvantaged or who cannot afford to pay for legal advice.
Pursue a non-legal career
The Juris Doctor (JD) not only opens doors to legal professions, it provides you with professional skills and values that are valued by many other industries.
Employers generally consider law graduates to be highly intelligent, critical thinkers with excellent work ethics.
As a Juris Doctor (JD) graduate, you will be highly competitive in the business and corporate sector because of your task management skills, knowledge of corporate law and negotiation skills. Your analytical problem solving skills and critical thinking abilities will also be highly valued.
A law degree also demonstrates a commitment to justice, equality and the rule of law - qualities which are valued by national and international non-governmental organisations, and by government departments and political bodies.
The Juris Doctor (JD) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice is accredited by the Legal Profession Admission Board of New South Wales.