Glossary - Law

To research your course options at different universities, visit our participating universities' websites. 

Administrative law

One of the Priestley 11 subjects you'll study if you want to become a lawyer.
Administrative law is the law of decision making, and the processes and procedures that different groups such as the Environmental Protection Authority and the Liquor Licensing Board are expected to follow.

Adviser / Policy & Communications

All sorts of people and organisations, from politicians to charities, employ people to advise them about policy, communications and much more. They are often highly paid and work behind the scenes to ensure that the person or group they work for is properly informed and able to advocate for changes to law or policy they believe to be necessary.

Advocate

An advocate is someone who speaks up on behalf of an individual or a group, or argues for a particular cause. The diferent jurisdictions, for example the courts and various civil and administrative bodies and tribunals, all have rules about whether an advocate must be a qualified legal professional to appear on behalf of a party to proceedings.

Associate

Performs a range of administrative and court duties to assist a Judge or Magistrate. They may be required to complete paperwork, liaise with parties, keep a record of court proceedings, and take verdicts or findings in coronial hearings.

Bachelor of Laws

The most common pathway to a law qualification is the Bachelor of Laws. This is a 4 year full-time course that you can apply for in Year 12 through VTAC. Many universities in Victoria and around Australia offer the Bachelor of Laws and double degrees with Law. For more detail about what's involved, including practical training, and where this qualification can take you, go to Making the leap. See also: Bachelor of Laws (Graduate Entry) or Juris Doctor (JD).

Bachelor of Laws (Graduate Entry) or Juris Doctor (JD)

This is another pathway which allows you to first study any university degree you like, then apply for one of these courses. Some universities offer a Graduate Entry Bachelor of Laws, while some offer a JD. For more detail about what's involved, including practical training, and where this qualification can take you, go to Making the leap.

Barrister

A Barrista makes you a coffee in a cafe. A Barrister is a lawyer who, depending on the jurisdiction, has become a member of "the Bar" - a group of independent lawyers whose job is to advise clients and appear on their behalf in court. All lawyers in Australia can choose to become Barristers. They are the lawyers you often see wearing wigs and robes although not all Barristers do so, depending on the jurisdiction in which they are appearing.

Bench Clerk / Trainee Court Registrar

Assists Magistrates or Presiding Members with court proceedings and resources. Announces the cases, calls people into court, directs people where to stand, and reads the charges out in a criminal proceeding. Responsible for swearing in and affirming witnesses, managing exhibits, and other court related tasks such as disseminating court documentation.

Business person

Business in Australia is about making money. Making money needs contracts and agreements and partnerships. These are all things that law students learn about throughout their course. Studying law gives people the problem solving and analytical skills that many businesspeople find very useful, whether they work for a large corporation or start their own small business from scratch.

Civil and Administrative Tribunal

All the States and Territories, with the exception of Tasmania, have a Civil and Administrative Tribunal. These hear cases relating to lesser State or Territory administrative disputes (involving some individual, business or government body). These commonly involve actions by persons bound to act pursuant to some form of devolved legislation; such as Environmental Regulations or Rental Tenancy Regulations. (source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judiciary_of_Australia#Australian_court_hierarchy)

Civil procedure

One of the Priestley 11 subjects you'll study if you want to become a lawyer.
Trials aren't just for criminal offences. When someone sues someone for breaching a contract or damages for negligence, the rules which apply to how they 'proceed' in court are looked at in this subject.

Consultant

Businesses and organisations are looking to become more efficient and effective in what they do all the time. Consultants assist them to do this. Law professionals might consider consultancy to allow them to problem solve and think creatively.

Contracts

One of the Priestley 11 subjects you'll study if you want to become a lawyer.
We enter into contracts every day, whenever we do something or give something to someone for money, or vice versa. Contracts are agreements which are binding and require something to be signed and exchanged between parties.

Conveyancer / Legal Executive

With appropriate Law qualifications, Conveyancers and Legal Executives can act for and on behalf of their employer or clients in the areas of property transfer, company and business law, trusts, wills, probate and litigation.
 

Company Law

One of the Priestley 11 subjects you'll study if you want to become a lawyer.
Many businesses operate within the structure of a company, which has special rules that govern how people involved with the company are expected to act.

Courts / Judiciary

For details of the Australian Courts heirarchy, check out the WikiPedia - Judiciary of Australia page.

Criminal law and procedure

One of the Priestley 11 subjects you'll study if you want to become a lawyer.
This is the study of what makes a crime and the roles of the prosecution, defence, judge and jury in a criminal trial.

Criminal trial

A trial where a person is accused of committing a crime like assault, theft or murder.

Defence

The defence is the team of lawyers (or a single lawyer) acting on behalf of the accused person (also known as the defendant). Their job is to make arguments against the prosecution case and try to establish reasonable doubt so that the person they represent is found not guilty.

Diplomat

Diplomats are responsible for the relationships between nations and important international organisations like the UN, which rely on laws, regulations and agreements. Australian diplomats might represent their home country or choose to work internationally for a global body.

Equity (including Trusts)

One of the Priestley 11 subjects you'll study if you want to become a lawyer.
Equity at its simplest is about the legal idea of fairness. A trust is a relationship whereby property is held by one party for the benefit of another. A trust is created by a settlor, who transfers property to a trustee. The trustee holds that property for the trust's beneficiaries. Trusts exist mainly in common law jurisdictions and similar systems existed since Roman times.

Journalist

Journalism is increasingly a specialised field but law professionals can make good journalists because of their skill with words and writing. Thinking carefully, researching and investigating are all skills that apply equally well to law and journalism.

Ethics and Professional Responsibility

One of the Priestley 11 subjects you'll study if you want to become a lawyer.
Lawyers have tremendous responsibility, sometimes having someone's life and freedom in their hands, so it is important the lawyers know how they are meant to behave and the rules which set out what they can and can't do.

Evidence

One of the Priestley 11 subjects you'll study if you want to become a lawyer.
Many of you will have heard a TV lawyer stand up shouting “Objection! Hearsay!” or “Leading the witness”. These words are from the law of evidence: what is and isn't allowed to be presented in court during proceedings, how and why.

Federal and State Constitutional law

One of the Priestley 11 subjects you'll study if you want to become a lawyer.
The constitution of a country or state is its most important document, on top of which all other laws are built. Constitutions set out the fundamental laws of the land and seek to protect the people and divide power amongst different arms of government, like the courts and parliament.

Judge

A judge is a special role in our legal system and one that you cannot apply for. Judges are normally accomplished and senior lawyers who have demonstrated great legal skill, knowledge and integrity and are invited to join "the bench". Judges preside in courts like the Supreme Court and County Court of Victoria.

Judge's Associate

Judges have heavy workloads and often employ high achieving law students and graduates to assist them in preparing to hear cases. Associates work closely with the judge, doing research, clerical work and learning an enormous amount about the legal system along the way.

Juris Doctor (JD) or Bachelor of Laws (Graduate Entry)

This is another pathway which allows you to first study any university degree you like, then apply for one of these courses. Some universities offer a Graduate Entry Bachelor of Laws, while some offer a JD. For more detail about what's involved, including practical training, and where this qualification can take you, go to Making the leap.

Jury

Twelve people who don’t have legal training who are required by law to sit and listen to all the facts and arguments in a case and decide in favour of one party or the other. In a criminal trial they must find the accused person guilty if all twelve (or in some cases 10 or 11 out of 12) jurors are convinced that the accused committed the crime beyond reasonable doubt.

Law Clerk

Law clerks do all the running around in a law firm. Research, conveyancing, preparing memoranda or drafts of documents for review, and even the photocopying, It is a great introduction to life as a lawyer and many people find work as clerks while they are completing their university law studies.

Legal Secretary

Legal secretaries are secretaries that specialise in legal practice and become expert at the preparation of certain legal documents, assisting lawyers by handling the administrative work involved.

Magistrate

A magistrate is like a judge but normally fulfils the role in a Magistrates Court or similar body. They are typically responsible for hearing criminal and civil matters in a lower court.

Mediator

So much of legal practice involves negotiation and mediation - sitting down with opposing parties to come to a settlement. A mediator is responsible for running such a meeting, doing as much as possible to ensure fairness and progress towards the parties resolving their dispute.

Mens rea

Mens rea is Latin for "guilty mind".

Paralegal

Paralegals are often given a mix of the work both clerks and legal secretaries do. It is a specialised role, which often requires significant training in specialised areas of the law. Paralegals become invaluable support to lawyers in servicing their clients.

Policy & Communications Adviser

All sorts of people and organisations, from politicians to charities, employ people to advise them about policy, communications and much more. They are often highly paid and work behind the scenes to ensure that the person or group they work for is properly informed and able to advocate for changes to law or policy they believe to be necessary.

Politician

There are more law professionals in our parliaments than any other type of professional. Politicians make the laws that govern our country, state and community so having a legal background will obviously be helpful in creating legislation.

Priestley 11

To ensure that everyone learns the core principles of Australian law, every single law course at Australian universities which is recognised by the Council of Legal Education must have 11 specific subjects (the Priestly 11). All of the law courses have a lot more than 11 subjects you need to study but these 11 must be completed otherwise you won't be eligible to become a lawyer. Follow the links for brief descriptions:

Property

One of the Priestley 11 subjects you'll study if you want to become a lawyer.
Property – you learn about 'real property' (land) and 'personal property' (cars, jewellery), as well as important terms like mortgages, easements and caveats.

Prosecution

The prosecution is the team of lawyers (or a single lawyer), acting on behalf of the people or ‘state’, who make the case that an accused person is guilty, beyond reasonable doubt.

Public servant

In Australia we have three levels of government - federal, state and local, and each level employs thousands of people to organise and administer everything from healthcare to defence to rubbish collection. Law professionals often pursue a career in the public service where their knowledge and skills are highly valued.

Registrar / Deputy Registrar

The Registrar is the senior manager / administrator of the court. They or a member of the registry staff will be the person who assists you at a court counter on matters such as case listings and timings, location of courtrooms, and advice about court procedures and protocols.

Solicitor 

Most lawyers in Australia practise as solicitors. They are lawyers who work at a firm or in a partnership on behalf of their clients. Solicitors can appear in court but will often 'instruct' barristers for more complicated matters, providing all the information and documents the barrister needs when they appear in court.

If a person appearing in court has not engaged a solicitor, they may be eligible to be represented by the court's Duty Solicitor.

Teacher/Lecturer

Law professionals need people to teach them everything they know! Lecturers at TAFEs and Universities pass on the knowledge and skills law professionals need. Law academics often write articles and books that are used to explain the law and argue for necessary changes.

Torts

One of the Priestley 11 subjects you'll study if you want to become a lawyer.
'Tort' means a 'wrong', which can be things like finding a cockroach in your soup at a restaurant (negligence) or the neighbour making too much noise every night (nuisance).

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