Juris Doctor (JD) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice

Clinical experience and admission into legal practice

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The Juris Doctor (JD) and the embedded Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the University of Newcastle is designed to equip you with the knowledge, clinical experience and qualification for admission into legal practice in Australia.

You will study the Juris Doctor (JD) concurrently with the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, allowing you to develop both high level academic and legal skills, whilst also providing practical and real-world experience.

Offered at a postgraduate level, the Juris Doctor (JD) prepares you to be a career ready graduate with the skills and extensive knowledge to become a leader in Australian and global legal practice.

Graduates can gain entry into the legal profession without any further study.

Completing the Juris Doctor (JD) will see you contribute to the University of Newcastle Legal Centre, working on real cases and providing an important service to the community.

In today’s competitive employment market, employers are looking for highly qualified graduates with a wide range of skills. Even if you do not want to become a lawyer, the Juris Doctor (JD) will provide you with a multifaceted skill and knowledge base to help you in your chosen career. It will enhance your academic and professional qualifications and make you a more desirable employee.

Scholarships available for international on-campus students

Experience a personalised learning environment

You will study in a collegial, interactive learning community with highly qualified and award-winning academic staff dedicated to your success. You will experience a friendly and supportive learning environment and you will benefit from a balanced student-teacher ratio, which creates a personalised learning environment. You can expect:

  • Small tutorial class sizes
  • Dedicated and accessible teachers
  • A collegial student community

The Juris Doctor (JD) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice is accredited by the Legal Profession Admission Board of New South Wales.

Is it for you?

First-rate classroom tuition combined with practical, hands-on experience prepares and qualifies you to enter legal practice immediately after completing your Juris Doctor (JD) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice.

The University of Newcastle's law school is the first in Australia to offer an integrated learning experience. Your degree integrates experiential learning and skills training with the conventional legal curriculum, including a wide range of elective courses.

Professional placement

The University of Newcastle's Legal Centre encourages you to pursue professional placements at external law firms and other organisations that you may be interested in joining at the completion of your studies. To help you arrange placements, you can take advantage of the many external relationships held by the University.

Gain experience through national competitions

University of Newcastle law students have a competitive reputation and frequently excel in national law competitions. Recent highlights include:

2013 – Grand finalist in the ALSA mooting competition
2012 - Two students represented Australia in the International Client Counselling Competition in Dublin
2011 - Grand finalists in the ALSA client interviewing competition
2008 - Won the prestigious Kirby Cup at the Australian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) conference. The Kirby Cup, named in honour of cup sponsor Justice Michael Kirby, tests your ability to argue a case for law reform based on real issues of social concern.

The Juris Doctor (JD) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice is accredited by the Legal Profession Admission Board of New South Wales.


The Juris Doctor (JD) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice comprises 280 units (i.e 28 x 10 unit courses), which includes 200 units of core courses including the Legal Practice courses, plus 80 units of directed courses chosen from a list of 31 courses (subject to availability).

Students can choose directed courses that they are interested in from a range of areas including:

  • Advanced Corporate Governance
  • Advanced Criminal Law
  • Advanced Legal Research Project
  • Advanced Public International Law
  • Advocacy Skills
  • Client Interviewing and Negotiation Skills
  • Commercial Dispute Resolution
  • Commercial Law
  • Competition Law and Policy
  • Consumer Credit and Personal Insolvency Law Clinic
  • Corporations, Globalisation and Human Rights
  • Crime and Society
  • Criminal Law Clinic
  • Employment Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Environmental/Natural Resources Law Clinic
  • Family Law
  • Financial Services Regulation
  • Global Administrative Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • International Child and Family Law
  • International Climate Change law and Policy
  • International Environmental Law and Policy
  • International Human Rights Law
  • International Private Law
  • Internet Law
  • Legal Theory
  • Mining Law
  • Refugee/Migration Law Clinic
  • Sentencing: Global Theory, Law and Practice
  • Social Justice/Public Interest Clinic
  • Taxation Law

Custom legal clinics

You will gain in-depth practical experience by participating in customised Legal Clinics exploring the below areas.

Consumer credit

Specialised understanding of the fundamental concepts of consumer credit and bankruptcy law will be developed in this clinic where cases involving persons who are dealing with unmanageable debts and the prospect of personal insolvency will be considered. Research, communication, drafting and advocacy skills will be developed in the specific context of credit and bankruptcy law but will also be transferable to other legal contexts.

Criminal law

Opportunities will be presented to participate in defence work preparing cases and assisting in representation of clients at the local courts in the Newcastle area under the supervision of a Legal Centre lawyer. Skills will be developed in client interviewing, fact investigation, strategy, tactics and ethics in criminal defence work, which will also be transferable to other litigation contexts.

Natural resources law

Experience practical application through both litigious and non-litigious enforcement practices of the key legislative instruments relevant to Australia’s natural resources – water, native vegetation, forests, minerals, threatened species and land. This clinic will also consider policy making in the environmental and natural resources law field where experience may be gained in drafting submissions to law reform commissions, parliamentary bodies and other organisations.

Public interest law

Social justice and public interest legal cases will form the basis of the practice in this clinic where opportunities will be presented to develop communication, research, drafting and advocacy skills in the context of these interesting cases.

Refugee/migration law

Develop skills in dealing with principles, concepts, issues, problems and dilemmas faced in migration law and in claims for asylum. This clinic will involve the potential for gaining experience in communication with clients and organisations, human rights advocacy, detailed legal research and drafting law reform submissions.

The Juris Doctor (JD) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice is accredited by the Legal Profession Admission Board of New South Wales.


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.

Professional accreditation

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:

  • Civil litigation
  • Commercial law
  • Criminal law
  • Family law
  • Personal injury
  • Property law
  • Tax law
  • 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
  • International law
  • Sports 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.

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