Everything You Need to Know About Studying a Juris Doctor in Australia

If you’re considering a career in the legal field and already have a qualification, studying a Juris Doctor (JD) could be the right path for you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of this graduate-level course and provide you with all the essential information you need to know.

What is a Juris Doctor in Australia?

A Juris Doctor is one of the main law degrees available for those who wish to practice law in Australia. It is a postgraduate degree designed for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-law discipline. Additionally, if you have a law degree from another country but want to practice law locally, you can also pursue a Juris Doctor in Australia.

Contrary to popular belief, a Juris Doctor is not a doctorate degree in Australia. It is actually equivalent to a master’s degree. Therefore, graduates cannot use the title “doctor” in their professional practice.

Bachelor of Laws vs Juris Doctor: What’s the Difference?

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Both a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and a Juris Doctor (JD) can prepare you for a successful career in law. However, there are some key differences between the two degrees.

A Bachelor of Laws is typically pursued by students who want to study law immediately after completing Year 12. On the other hand, a Juris Doctor is suitable for individuals who already have a degree in a different field and want to transition into law. Both degrees cover similar content, including core law subjects like administrative law, contracts, and criminal law and procedures. However, the Juris Doctor curriculum is generally more advanced and expects a higher standard of work due to its postgraduate nature.

Another notable distinction is that the Juris Doctor program often offers online study options, catering to students who are already working full-time while pursuing their legal education.

Here’s a quick comparison between the Bachelor of Laws and Juris Doctor degrees:

Degree Who Should Enroll? Course Duration Entry Requirements Average Cost
Bachelor of Laws – High school graduates 3-4 years full-time or online – Appropriate ATAR (usually over 80) $43,000 to $62,000, depending on the university
– Mature age students without a degree – Previous TAFE or university experience
Juris Doctor – Those with a non-law bachelor’s degree 3 years full-time or online – Bachelor’s degree in non-law discipline $43,000 to $115,000, depending on the university
– International students with an overseas law degree – English language requirements

Both Bachelor of Laws and Juris Doctor degrees offer various pathways for admission, ensuring flexibility and accessibility for prospective students.

Course Structure and Admission Requirements

To gain entry into a Juris Doctor program, there are several pathways available:

  • Meeting the appropriate ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank), which is usually set at a minimum of 80.
  • Having previous TAFE or university study experience.
  • Enrolling in single law subjects with no entry requirements, offered through Open Universities Australia. This option is open to individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-law discipline and meet English language requirements.

It’s important to note that course fees for both the Bachelor of Laws and Juris Doctor degrees can vary depending on the university you choose to study with. On average, a Bachelor of Laws can range from $43,000 to $62,000, while a Juris Doctor can range from $43,000 to $115,000. However, eligible students can apply for tuition fee deferral through the Australian Higher Education Loan Program (HELP).

Career Opportunities with a Juris Doctor

Studying a Juris Doctor opens up a world of opportunities in the legal field and beyond. Here are some of the most popular career paths you can pursue with this qualification:

1. Practice Law

Many individuals pursue a Juris Doctor with the intention of practicing law. With a JD, you can work as a lawyer, solicitor, barrister, or even aspire to become a judge. However, it’s important to note that earning a Juris Doctor satisfies the academic requirements for admission to practice, but additional training known as Practical Legal Training (PLT) is necessary before applying for admission within your state or territory. This can be achieved through work experience in a law firm or by completing a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice.

As a legal professional, your role involves representing and advocating for clients in legal matters. Specializations within various areas of law, such as family law, environmental law, or criminal law, are common among Juris Doctor graduates. Some individuals even choose to pursue further study to deepen their expertise in their chosen specialization.

2. Community Advocacy

Apart from practicing law directly, Juris Doctor graduates can also use their legal knowledge to make a difference within social justice or community support roles. For example, individuals with a background in mental health, like Matthew, a psychiatric nurse unit manager from Adelaide, may pursue a Juris Doctor to better advocate for the rights of mental health patients within and outside the hospital. Matthew believes that law and health are deeply interconnected, allowing him to have a more significant impact on his patients’ lives.

3. In-House Legal Specialists

A Juris Doctor can also open doors to a career as an in-house legal specialist within the corporate sector. Professionals like Lisa, a film and television executive, leverage their legal expertise to navigate complex legal contracts within their industry. Lisa’s Juris Doctor degree gives her an edge in assisting filmmakers with legal matters, ensuring their projects can proceed smoothly. This demonstrates how a Juris Doctor can be valuable in various industries, such as the arts, technology, banking, and finance, where legal guidance is crucial.

Is Pursuing a Juris Doctor Worth It in Australia?

Juris Doctor (JD) : The University of Western Australia

The value of a Juris Doctor degree ultimately depends on your career aspirations and personal goals. If your dream is to work in the legal profession, earning a Juris Doctor can certainly give you a competitive edge in the field. According to Graduate Careers Australia, 74% of law graduates secure employment within four months of graduating, surpassing the national average of 68.9%.

Furthermore, a Juris Doctor is internationally recognized and holds a higher ranking on the Australian Qualifications Framework compared to a Bachelor of Laws. This ranking can be an important consideration when comparing your options.

However, the cost of pursuing a Juris Doctor can be a significant barrier for many individuals. In such cases, a Bachelor of Laws might be a more financially viable option, as it offers similar foundational knowledge at a lower investment. Additionally, there are more affordable online Juris Doctor programs available through Open Universities Australia, providing an accessible alternative for prospective students.

Juris Doctor Graduate Salary in Australia

The average graduate law salary in Australia ranges between $53,000 and $70,000 per year, according to the Hays Salary Guide 2022-2023. However, this salary range increases significantly with experience. Lawyers with over six years of industry experience can expect to earn between $100,000 and $160,000 per year.

The type of law you specialize in can also influence your job prospects and earning potential. The top legal careers in demand in Australia, as identified by Hays, include commercial property solicitors, insurance solicitors, commercial lawyers, family lawyers, and corporate lawyers. With a Juris Doctor, you can leverage your existing undergraduate qualification to carve out a niche in a specific area of law. For example, if you have a background in human resources, a Juris Doctor could propel you toward specializing in legal recruitment. Similarly, if you are already qualified in accounting, a legal degree could serve as a stepping stone into a regulatory compliance role.


Juris Doctor | JD in Melbourne | La Trobe University

Choosing to study a Juris Doctor in Australia can be a transformative step toward a successful career in law. This graduate-level degree offers a pathway for individuals with non-law backgrounds to enter the legal profession and opens doors to various exciting career opportunities. Whether you aspire to practice law, advocate for social justice, or provide legal guidance within the corporate world, a Juris Doctor can equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to thrive.

Consider your career goals, financial circumstances, and personal aspirations when deciding between a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Laws. It’s essential to weigh the benefits, costs, and potential for specialization that each degree offers. Ultimately, the law offers a multitude of exciting directions, and the choice is yours to make.

Ready to embark on your legal education journey? Explore the online Juris Doctor degrees available from leading universities and take the first step toward a rewarding career in the legal field.

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