Don’t be Mike Ross: Getting Admitted as a Lawyer
You’ve spent years at university. You’ve worked more days for free doing your PLT than you’ve worked to make money in your entire life. You’ve been through exam meltdowns more times than you can count on your fingers, which means more times than you can count because after years of law you have little to no maths skills left. Although perhaps you have just enough mathematical ability left to calculate how long you will need to go without food in order to afford the admission fees and law society membership for new lawyers.
Yes, it’s admission time. Because we can’t all be like Mike Ross, most of us will actually need to prove that we are admitted lawyers before we start our first lawyer jobs.
There’s no doubt that it’s an expensive process. Some workplaces will pay for your admission application fee, but it’s important to note that some will not. When it comes to be admitted in your jurisdiction, make sure you have enough money set aside to cover the costs if your work won’t cover the fee.
There’s something else you should know about the admissions process. The paperwork is actually quite extensive. As it turns out, they really want to be sure you are not lying about your qualifications or suitability to be a lawyer. For example, in New South Wales you need two independent character references. The unfortunate thing about this is that your mum and dad can’t write it. Nor can your partner, in-laws or other family members who think you are just wonderful. You’ll need to hit up some family friends or professional colleagues well in advance of your intended admission date. Handy hint: make sure your referees fill out all the paperwork correctly, including numbering each page of the reference, otherwise you will get a call from the admissions board telling you that you need to submit the whole reference. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may also need to write an affidavit to submit with your admission application. All the forms you need to fill out can be found on your state or territory’s law society or admission board website.
There are a couple of other complications that no one warned me about though, so I will warn you. If you have done your PLT through a university outside the jurisdiction you’ll be admitted in, you will need a few extra pieces of paper to say that you have finished the course, and that you completed the requirements for admission in your jurisdiction.
Also, the admission board wants original copies of all documents. It’s pretty annoying. You need an original transcript, original letters, original references. Everything has to be official. Just bear that in mind when you graduate and get given official transcripts – hold onto those for your admission, otherwise, most universities charge you about 20 bucks to obtain an official copy later on.
In NSW, the application form includes a declaration section that asks you to declare that you are not a criminal and that you haven’t been naughty at university stealing other students’ work, and such. If you have been a bit wild and slipped up on occasion, you won’t be able to sign all those declarations and will need to submit a full disclosure with the application. Don’t panic, it most likely will not be the end of your legal career. I can definitively say that being arrested over a misunderstanding in Mexico will not prevent you from living your legal dreams.
Once you have submitted all your forms and paid the fee, assuming you’ve completed the paperwork correctly (and your referees haven’t slandered you) the admissions board will contact you with the time and date for your admission ceremony.
While the process of applying for admission is intense, the end reward is that you’ll officially be a lawyer and you’ll finally be able to celebrate the closing of your “Becoming a Lawyer” chapter.
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