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If you are located in New Zealand then, although the Law is different in the two countries, there are many similarities in employment roles. We also understand that employment roles in Ireland and Canada are similar to those in Australia.

However, if you are located in the United Kingdom (or other similar jurisdictions), there is a great deal of difference between Legal Executives in the UK and Legal Executives in Australia; for example, Legal Executives in Australia are not 'legally qualified persons', and are not permitted to refer to themselves as Lawyers in Australia (as in the UK).

We hope that the following information will address your queries:

1. This Institute, as opposed to employers or educational institutions or statutory authorities, recognises membership of any of our sister Institutes (in various categories) for the purposes of enrolment with or membership of this Institute. We are all separate Institutes, but stay in contact with each other on a fairly regular basis and often work together on matters of mutual concern.

As is the case with our sister Institutes, enrolees and members work in a wide variety of employment roles in multiple legal disciplines. A small number of our members have undertaken a Bachelor of Laws Degree and have been admitted to practise as Barristers and Solicitors in Australia.

If you decide to apply to join our Institute, you should note that the Institute does not accept the electronic transfer of monies from persons unknown to it (unless they are members of one of our sister Institutes); and therefore in this event you may send an Application without the accompanying application fee. If your Application is accepted, we will ask you to forward the application fee, and pro rata subscription, at that time.

If you do apply and your Application is accepted, and you are not resident in Australia, please deduct 1/11th (Goods and Services Tax) from all application and subscription amounts before forwarding payment to us.

2. We need to point out that generally throughout Australia ONLY Australian Legal Practitioners (i.e. persons admitted as Solicitors and/or Barristers of the Supreme Court in the relevant Australian State/Territory, and holding a current Practising Certificate from the relevant Law Society/Legal Practice Board) are permitted to do legal work and give legal advice, NO ONE ELSE. The relevant State/Territory Council of Legal Education sets educational requirements for admission to the Supreme Court in that State/Territory, and the relevant Statutory Body, i.e. Law Society or Legal Practice Board, is responsible for the issuing of Practising Certificates in accordance with the legislation. Admission to practise is variously as a Solicitor or as a Barrister or as both, depending on the particular State or Territory; but, whichever variation applies, a person admitted to practise and holding a current Practising Certificate is called an Australian Legal Practitioner.

Legal Executives in Australia (and/or anyone at all who is not an Australian Legal Practitioner) CANNOT refer to themselves as Lawyers in Australia, and CANNOT practise law or engage in legal practice, or give legal advice, or do legal work, and/or provide legal services. Severe penalties apply for infringement. Additionally, one must usually be an accredited specialist Solicitor in order to use the descriptive term 'specialist'; and there are a number of other terms specifically reserved to Australian Legal Practitioners. As noted above, Legal Executives in Australia are not 'legally qualified persons', and in at least one State are not permitted (by the Law Society) to describe themselves as Legal Executives in their employment.

ONLY Australian Legal Practitioners admitted to practise and holding a current Practising Certificate are permitted by Law to practise law or engage in legal practice, give legal advice, do legal work, and/or provide legal services, no one else.

Non-legal practitioners must work under the direct supervision, and on the instructions, of a Legal Practitioner.

Generally to become a Legal Practitioner here one needs: a. a Law Degree (recognised in Australia); b. completion of a recognised practical training course; c. admission to the applicable State/Territory Supreme Court; and then (in order to practise) d. a Practising Certificate (annual) from the applicable Law Society/Legal Practice Board.

YOU SHOULD CONTACT the Law Society/Legal Practice Board in your intended State/Territory in order to obtain information regarding (a) the restrictions on non-legal practitioners, and (b) if applicable, requirements for admission as a Legal Practitioner in Australia [Council of Legal Education/Board of Examiners for educational requirements]. If you feel this may be applicable, these organisations should be consulted in relation to recognition of 'foreign lawyers' in Australia, within the strict definitions, and subject to the restrictions, of the legislation in the applicable State/Territory (if enacted).

Only the Law Society/Legal Practice Board in your intended State/Territory can inform you as to what you are and are not permitted to do (and how you may refer to yourself):

Australian Capital Territory –
New South Wales -
South Australia –
Tasmania –
Northern Territory –
Queensland –
Victoria –
Western Australia –

Appearing below, and reproduced with the kind permission of the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner, is an article pertaining to the restrictions in Victoria vis-à-vis persons with overseas legal qualifications. Whilst these relate to Victoria, it should be noted that other Australian jurisdictions have similar restrictions.

Some of our members are also Licensed Conveyancers, and if your interest lies in Conveyancing, in addition to Australian Legal Practitioners being authorised to act in conveyancing matters (as well as in all other areas of Law), Licensed Conveyancers are permitted to carry on a conveyancing business in accordance with the legislation in the applicable State/Territory where such legislation has been enacted. Again, there are severe penalties for breach. For further details, you should contact Consumer Affairs (and/or the Business Licensing Authority) in the applicable State/Territory.

3. Unfortunately you will probably find that the Immigration Authorities do not presently recognise the fact that there are Institutes of Legal Executives in a number of countries.

ONLY the Immigration Authorities can tell you if you would be permitted to work in Australia, and in that case what would be required in order for you to do so, and any limitations or restrictions; and to advise you in relation to any applicable eligibility points, visa requirements etc. Penalties are severe for any breach.

The Institute cannot provide any information whatsoever regarding Immigration matters.

We note that, following submissions by the Institutes of Legal Executives in Australia and New Zealand, 'Legal Executive' has now been included as an occupational definition in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (although, unfortunately at this stage, without reference to the Institutes).

This Institute only recognises use of the term 'Legal Executive™' by a (current) Fellow of this Institute, or as authorised by one of our sister Institutes.

4. The Law in Australia is of course different to the Law in other countries.

To add to this, the legislation, practice and case law is different in just about every State and Territory of Australia, with some overriding Federal legislation and case law. Assuming you are granted permission to work in Australia, clearly any employer will be looking at familiarity with our Law, or might perhaps consider an employee willing to enrol in such courses as are necessary to acquaint the employee with the Law in the particular State/Territory. One would hope that experience in the general discipline of Law would be taken into account.

Whilst there is currently an impetus for a 'National Legal Profession', at present this relates primarily to the Laws governing Legal Practitioners (and their employees) rather than to differing State/Territory legislation which currently applies to various legal disciplines.

Should you care to view the primary legislation relating to the legal profession in the various States and Territories, an excellent website is

5. Any future employment depends upon how an employer views your existing qualifications (and, of course, provided that you are granted permission by the Immigration authorities to work in Australia).

For those hailing from the UK, some UK members we know of who have relocated to Australia have not initially gained employment similar to the level at which they were employed in the UK, but have improved their level of responsibility over time, within the parameters of Australian restrictions on non-legal practitioners.

As in other countries, there is NO guarantee of employment. You may find the following websites useful when searching for jobs information:

An excellent website in regard to careers in Australia generally is

You can access some information in regard to award wages and conditions in Australia at various sites including The Award which applies to most employees in the legal profession is the Legal Services Award 2010: see also the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), and in particular the National Employment Standards in that Act.

The Institute also carries out regular Member surveys in relation to 'market' rates of pay, and other matters.

5. You will need full details of your studies to date if you intend requesting an Educational Institution to give you credit for any prior studies.

This Institute does not offer formal courses of study itself. Whether an Educational Institution would accept your existing qualifications as a credit towards an Australian course of study is up to the particular Educational Institution. There are numerous courses of legal study available in Australia from State to State (LL.B., and others, i.e. Law Clerk/paralegal courses). At a minimum you would have to provide syllabi, learning outcomes, and proof of the level at which your course is offered to enable the Educational Institution to consider your request.

Depending upon the particular Educational Institution, courses can variously be offered on-campus in full-time or part-time mode, and by distance. The National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (see may be of assistance to you; and the website may also be of assistance.

A question we are often asked is whether you should complete your studies first. Whether in your particular circumstances you should start or complete study in your originating country, or study here on arrival, is a personal choice for you - we really cannot express a view. We do suggest that you speak with a careers/study counsellor and/or a qualified Migration Agent, and discuss your queries with that person.

We trust that the above is of assistance to you.

Legal Executives are fairly well known in Victoria, and we do have some enrolees/members in all of the other States (although not the Territories at the moment). There is also an active Institute in Western Australia, and a Paralegals Association in South Australia.

Please view the other information on this website, and contact us if we can be of further assistance.


RPA Alert

Regulation. Prosecution. Action.

Alert to all practitioners from the Legal Services Board and the Legal Services Commissioner

RPA Alert 5, September 2013

Employment of overseas-qualified lawyers

The Legal Services Board is aware of several instances where law practices have employed overseas-qualified lawyers to engage in legal practice in Victoria as employees or consultants, when they are not entitled to do so under the Legal Profession Act 2004 (Vic).

This RPA Alert is being issued to assist law practices to meet their obligations when employing overseas-qualified lawyers. The Board is mindful of the value of deploying people with a breadth of competencies for the provision of legal services. This may be especially so with international and multi-jurisdictional legal services. It is important however, that law practices ensure they comply with the legislative requirements and that mistakes are not made that could have significant consequences for the law practice and the individual.

Subject to limited exceptions in the Act, an overseas-qualified lawyer may only engage in legal practice in Victoria if he or she is:

  • an Australian legal practitioner (admitted to the legal profession in an Australian jurisdiction and holds a current practising certificate from an Australian jurisdiction); or
  • registered as a foreign lawyer in an Australian jurisdiction. Note: a foreign lawyer can only practise the law of an overseas jurisdiction in Victoria - they are not permitted to practise Australian law.

There are serious repercussions for persons who engage in legal practice in Victoria when not entitled to do so under the Act. These also extend to people who represent or advertise that they are entitled to engage in legal practice when they are not; for example, by using certain titles, names or descriptions such as "solicitor", "attorney" and "counsel". The use of such terms is restricted under the Act as they give rise to the presumption of an entitlement to engage in legal practice.

Accordingly, when presenting overseas-qualified lawyers to clients, to other lawyers and to members of the public, the lawyer's role within the law practice should be clearly stated, including whether or not they are qualified to engage in legal practice in Victoria. Law practices should also take care to ensure that the titles used by overseas lawyers do not mislead others into thinking that they are entitled to engage in legal practice in Victoria, when in fact, they are not.

A breach of the Act may involve the offence of unqualified legal practice. Further, Australian legal practitioners and law practices assisting persons to engage in unqualified legal practice in Victoria may also be risking disciplinary proceedings.

Law practices should therefore ensure that they are not recruiting overseas-qualified lawyers to engage in legal practice in Victoria or representing them as being entitled to do so, unless they meet the requirements set out in the Act. It is suggested that a copy of this newsletter be also provided to your law practice's Human Resources and Marketing Managers.

It is important to note that the requirements for qualified legal practice also apply to New Zealand-qualified lawyers despite the fact that they are eligible for admission pursuant to the Mutual Recognition Scheme.

Further information on qualified legal practice is available on the Legal Services Board website.

Michael McGarvie
Legal Services Commissioner
CEO Legal Services Board

Contact Us
Phone: (03) 9679 8001