Australia has strict immigration laws and just because you have studied your LLM program there doesn’t necessarily mean you have the immediate right to stay on and work there.
However, there are lots of available career options for those who have the right set of qualifications and experiences, and are able to get the correct documentation in place.
Citizens and permanent residents of Australia, New Zealand and those with a sub-class 444 visa, have the right to work wherever they please in Australia. The regulations and laws governing work visas in Australia change regularly, so it is important to get up-to-date information from the Australian Government. For LLM students on a student visa in Australia, they must obtain a work visa after they graduate. Student visas do not give the automatic right to live and work in Australia after a student has completed their course. Your employer will have to sponsor your application for a work visa in Australia and will have regulations to adhere to, so you should be upfront with potential employers about your visa status.
Opportunities for foreign lawyers in Australia
To make the most of available opportunities as a foreign lawyer in Australia you must have an excellent law degree, which is the equivalent to an Australian LLB, however, you probably were required this to gain a place on the LLM program in Australia the first place. It is the state or territory in Australia rather than the central Government that decides if you can live and work there. Several legal careers are on the Australian Governments Skilled Occupation List and these currently include Legal Clerks, Barristers, Solicitors and Intellectual Property lawyers. The Skilled Occupation List changes frequently, so it's a good idea to check it regularly.
LLMs for foreign lawyers in Australia
For students who come from non-Common Law countries, it is useful to study an LLM program that is designed for your needs, such as the one at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Other law schools offer scholarships to international LLM students – just as Deakin Law School does – to assist with the extra costs associated with international study.
How do Australian law firms recruit LLM graduates?
Networking is key to gaining a position after you have graduated from your LLM program in Australia. Choosing an LLM program that includes a work placement will help you find a job in Australia after your course is finished, as this is how many law firms get to know potential employees.
How to get a job in a law firm
If you want to get in job in a law firm in Australia it’s a good idea to start your search early and keep checking on the local firms who are holding recruiting events, and it’s important to note that most law firms hire lawyers who have interned for them. Speak to your law school career guidance centre and other students. Your law school will hold networking events for you to attend, so make sure that you do and attend any event with guest speakers from local or national law firms or legal organisations. Participating in legal clinics and gaining as much experience as you can while you study your LLM in Australia will help clinch that job at the end.
Legal job prospects in Australia
Studying the law in Australia is a popular choice and the average salaries that legal workers can command are healthy as this table shows: