Employment Eligibility and Career Opportunities
By Tiffany P. Monorom
Has anyone ever told you to follow your passion and do what you love?
For international students, passion and love don’t always come first. With our current legal market and the competitive recruitment process, gaining employment in Australia is never a piece of cake— even for domestic students.
This bLAWg post aims to provide you with useful links and resources to consider when thinking about your career options and what you can do with your law degree as an international student in Australia.
Visa and Migration Information
The first thing you need to think about is your visa options. Each visa consists of different eligibility requirements and durations of stay so it is important to gather all the facts before you run off and start applying for graduate jobs!
The most common visa pathway for most recent international student graduates is through the skilled migration path by first applying for the Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485) and then the Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189).
Once you have completed your tertiary education as an international student, the Temporary Graduate Visa allows you to extend your time in Australia for a period of 18 months. However, your skill/occupation must fall under the ‘Skilled Occupation List’ (Solicitors and Barristers are eligible occupations). This visa can be used as a transitional step prior to applying for the Skilled Independent Visa.
To apply for the Skilled Independent Visa, you must submit an ‘expression of interest’, including a skills assessment for your nominated occupation. It is a points based test of 60 or more, taking into account your age, English language and other abilities.
Qualification to Practice
After completing your law degree, you must undertake the Practical Legal Training course in order to practice law in Australia. You can complete the Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP) program with the ANU Legal Workshop or other PLT providers such as The College of Law or Leo Cussen Centre of Law.
The PLT is flexible, which you can complete almost entirely online in as little as 6 months and up to 3 years. Different options for legal placement in an approved workplace are also available. You may be eligible to be admitted to practice as a barrister or solicitor upon completion of appropriate PLT.
Legal Career Opportunities
As we have already established, the legal market is very competitive. See Beyond Law’s Law Graduate Job Market Map for a variety of opportunities available whether you are interested in commercial law, non-for-profits or social justice.
International students may find it easier to aim toward careers in the private sector, as the public sector often has relatively strict requirements regarding citizenship or permanent residency. However, many private law firms also favour domestic applicants, so it pays to do your research.
International students should conduct their own research on each law firm’s website and contact human resources regarding international applicants.
Job Search Databases
When conducting a job search, the best place to start is our own ANU CareerHub for finding general work and not specifically for finding legal employment. Seek, Indeed and Pro Bono Australia are also popular sites used by many recruiters and job searchers.
Beyond Law Job Hub and Legal Vitae are job sites more specifically for law students, law graduates and young lawyers. ANU Legal Workshop’s Placements Board advertises job and Legal Practice Experience (LPE) placement for ANU legal workshop students. ANU Law Careers Fair usually takes place in the beginning of the academic year, and is another great opportunity for law students to discover different employment opportunities across the legal sector, non-profits and consulting.
The LSS International Students team will be hosting a careers information session, intending to provide a comprehensive discussion of the subject matter presented above. Stay tuned for more details of the event!