Law - FAQs
What VCE subjects should I study to help me become a lawyer?
The most common prerequisite that you have to study as a part of the VCE, if you want to go on to study law at university, is 'Units 3 and 4: any English'. Most universities require a study score of at least 30 in English (EAL) or at least 25 in English other than EAL. If you are applying for entry into a combined degree you will also need to satisfy any pre-requisites for the non-law component of your degree.
Check out our Building skills page for more information about choosing the right subjects to help you reach your career goal.
Are all law courses the same at different universities?
Not all law courses are the same, but there are definitely similarities between all law courses.
No matter where you do a law degree there are certain topics that you will have to study. These cover 11 main areas of law, like criminal law, the law in relation to contracts, and constitutional law. These 11 areas are called the ‘Priestley 11’, (see our Building skills page for more information) In addition to completing compulsory subjects that will cover the Priestley 11, students studying law will have to complete some elective units. Every university will have a range of electives that students can study, and students will pick the ones that they think will be the most interesting, or that are relevant to the area(s) of law they think they want to work in when they finish. It is worth looking at the electives on offer at the different universities and seeing if those run by some are of more interest to you than those run by others.
One of the main differences that now exists between the law courses at different universities is that some are only for graduate students (which means you will need to have finished a university degree before you can start them) and others are for undergraduate students (meaning you can start the degree as soon as you finish high school). There are advantages and disadvantages to both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Advantages of undergraduate degrees include the following:
• If you get a high enough ATAR, you can start them straight out of high school. Some people have decided they definitely want to be a lawyer by the time they finish high school, and are keen to start studying it as soon as they can.
• When you start the course, you will usually get to study law at the same time as you are studying other things (for example, in your first semester you might do one subject in law, another in English, and another in philosophy). Some people really enjoy this diversity, even though they want to start their study of law as soon as possible. Note that by the time you are a year or two into your studies, you will have to do more law than anything else.
Advantages of graduate degrees include the following:
- They will often be shorter than undergraduate degrees (most graduate law degrees take 3 years to finish, and most undergraduate law degrees take 5 years to finish).
- By the time you start studying law, you will already have had the chance to develop your knowledge in another area (being the area in which you completed your first degree). Many people really enjoy taking a broader course (like Arts) before they focus in on their legal studies.
- Most people who decide to do a graduate law degree are pretty sure that it will suit them, because they have had more time to think about it and already know what it is like to study at university.
What ATAR score is required for law related courses?
ATAR scores are a sign of the popularity of a course rather than the difficulty level, job opportunities that result or quality of the institution that provides them. The more people who apply for a course, the higher the ATAR score may become.
ATAR scores can change each year. The ATAR required to get into a course will vary according to the number of people applying and the quality of those students in terms of their personal ATAR.
The best way to get an idea of the ATAR scores of law related courses is to see what the different universities required for their courses last year. Visit our LEAP Program Partners page to find links to the LEAP partner universities in Victoria. Each link takes you to a page that outlines how to search that university's courses. Alternatively you can search for courses and ATARs using the VTAC website.
What if I don’t get the ATAR to get into a law course direct from Year 12?
If you don’t get the ATAR to get into a law course direct from year 12 but you still want to become a lawyer there are two main options you might want to think about:
- Starting another university course, and then seeing if you can transfer into law after you have finished a year or two of study. Universities that offer undergraduate law degrees may let you do this if you have done really well in your university studies when you apply to transfer. The rules about doing this differ from university to university, so make sure you do some research before you enrol anywhere.
- Doing a graduate law degree after you have finished an undergraduate university degree in something else. When you apply for a graduate degree course, your ATAR might not have to be considered at all. If it is, it will usually be one relatively small factor taken into account alongside other things like your results at university so far and the reasons you want to study law.
Don’t be discouraged if you want to study law but don’t get a high enough ATAR – a lot of people who become really successful lawyers have found themselves in this boat!
If I don't get a place at university, are there other pathways to a career in Law?
Most universities will consider applicants who have not completed Year 12 but who possess appropriate educational qualifications, work or life experiences. You may have to first complete a pathway course to gain the educational qualifications and then transfer into the Bachelor of Laws. You may be able to satisfy this requirement by completing an Advanced Diploma of Legal Practice at TAFE, however the rules about doing this differ from university to university so make sure you do some research. Look at the university’s admission requirements on the Bachelor of Laws course page, and feel free to call the university for more information.
The universities in Victoria that offer undergraduate law programs are:
- Australian Catholic University
- Deakin University
- La Trobe University
- Monash University
- Victoria University
Follow the links to their LEAP landing pages from our LEAP Program Partners page to research their requirements for entry.
Does everyone who studies law at university become a lawyer? What else can I do?
Not everyone who studies law at university becomes a lawyer, and some people who study law work as lawyers for a few years before deciding they want to change the direction of their career.
People who graduate from a Bachelor of Laws but don’t want to work as lawyers can work in many areas of different careers, including:
- In legal practice areas, including criminal law, family law, commercial law and business
- In community legal centres or in not-for-profit organisations, providing legal access to disadvantaged groups
- As a policy or legal adviser in government or other organisations
- In the Police force
- As a human rights advocate
- In legal research or academia.
Many other jobs where your legal knowledge will be required or highly desirable.(see our Find out more page for lots of examples).
Most people who have studied law find the knowledge and skills they developed at university are really helpful to them no matter what career path they end up following.
Once I get my degree does that mean I am a lawyer?
Getting a law degree is the first (and most time consuming!) step towards becoming a lawyer, but you do not automatically become a lawyer when you finish your law degree.
If you want to become a lawyer, you will need to complete something called ‘Practical Legal Training’ (or PLT) before you can become a lawyer. PLT relates to the practical aspects of being a lawyer, and there are two ways you can complete it:
- You can do a PLT course (which means more study, but with a practical focus). These courses usually take 6 months to complete.
- You can do Supervised Workplace Training, which is basically a 12 month ‘traineeship’ with a law firm or office. Obviously, you will need to find a firm or lawyer who is willing to employ you before you can complete Supervised Workplace Training.
Once you have finished your PLT, you can apply to the Court for admission to the legal profession in Victoria. Once you are admitted, you are officially a lawyer!
University study - FAQs
Is it worth attending university Open Days?
Yes, they are well worth attending because you can find out all about a university you're interested in attending and get advice that can help you make the right choices for your future. They can be great fun as well! Check out our Open Day hints and tips.
How long will I have to study at university?
It depends which course you choose. Study durations for different professions and career roles can vary. As a general rule, a Bachelor degree is awarded after three years of full-time study. Some degrees incorporate a fourth year, or an Honours year if you intend to pursue certain professions.
In some professions, full professional accreditation or practise certification requires you to complete further study, such as a Postgraduate course, a Masters degree. In some cases a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) can be advantageous. But you don't need to aim that high at first - a Bachelor degree will give you opportunities to get going in many professions, then you can build your qualifications up over time while working your way up in your chosen profession.
Some courses also offer internships or paid industry placements, so you will be getting the hands-on experience many employers are looking for at the same time as you are studying.
If you chose to study a double degree (two degrees at once) this will take longer but not as long as studying two separate degrees one after the other.
Check out the course guides for your preferred courses/ universities for more detail. For links to all of our partner universities' LEAP Landing pages and their course listings, go to our LEAP program partners page. Then chat to your school's Careers Coordinator.
What does it cost to study at university?
The cost varies between institutions and courses. Depending on whether you are offered a Commonwealth supported or a fee paying place, you will need to contribute financially to the cost of your study but the amount and timing will vary. A detailed explanation of available options can be found at the QILT website on the For Students page. Further information about help with fees is available on the Study Assist website.
What does 'full-time' study involve? Is the uni study year the same as school?
The standard full-time study year comprises two semesters each of around 12 weeks of teaching, one week for study break, and an exam period or final assignment submissions over the following four weeks (approx 34 weeks in total). The study year generally runs from early March to late June then late July to mid-November.
Some courses at some universities may be structured differently or flexibly. For example, Deakin University runs three trimesters each year. A third semester or internship during the summer or semester breaks may be available to reduce the total period for completion of the course if you want to fast-track it.
You need to check specific dates and course structure options at each university you're considering when researching your preferred courses. For links to all of our partner universities' LEAP Landing pages and their course listings, go to our LEAP program partners page.
Do I have to study for three years continuously?
Flexibility of study is a feature of most university courses, allowing you to study part-time or defer (take a break from) your studies, if for example you need to work to support yourself or want to take a gap year. Provided you meet any satisfactory progress rules, you may be able to study fewer subjects in some semesters, or even apply to defer study for a semester or a year, to get relevant experience through work or travel. It is important to check with the university and course you wish to study, so you know the options available.
How does learning at uni take place? What expectations are there?
Learning at uni can be in many different forms. There are lectures and tutorials (tutes) but you might also attend labs, seminars, practical classes or even online classes. Attendance is not compulsory for most classes but it is for some. It is up to you to do your individual study away from classes and hand in your work on time. Lecturers and tutors will not be reminding you every minute to do your readings or hand in your assignments. Learning at uni is really all about the effort you put in – and that will be reflected in your marks.
If lectures can be viewed online, do I have to attend lectures in person?
While it is true nowadays most lectures at uni are recorded and available online, there are real benefits from actually attending. These include experiencing the university atmosphere, the ability to meet your lecturers and fellow students as well as the chance to ask questions and seek clarification in class. This is a great way to practise some of your essential skills like communication, networking and good listening. Friends made during regular lecture attendance often become study buddies or form into study groups.
LEAP - FAQs
Who should use the website?
The LEAP website is mainly for students in years 7 to 12, in Victorian schools. Pages for parents and teachers have relevant information about the LEAP program, and tips about getting the most out of the website for students.
Who can attend LEAP events?
LEAP activities are targeted towards school groups and students from LEAP priority schools.
Applications from non-LEAP priority schools or students will be considered subject to available spaces and/or resources. LEAP priority schools are listed in the "Schools" dropdown in the online Application Form.
What is the cost of participation in LEAP events?
Participation in LEAP events is free for students from LEAP priority schools.
Is there travel support for students in need, so they don’t miss out on participating?
Support for the cost of travel may be available for students from LEAP priority schools where this cost is a barrier to participation. See travel support.
Did my online application for a LEAP activity or event submit successfully?
After submitting your application, you should have seen a "Thank you" page, advising you that an automated email confirmation would be sent to your email address. If you didn't see the "Thank you" page and haven't received a confirmation email including the details of your application, you should contact us as you may need to resubmit your application.
How can I keep up to date with what is happening in the LEAP Program?
Subscribe now for LEAP eNews and updates.
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