Applying for a practising certificate
This page contains information about applying for a new practising certificate. For information on renewing a current practising certificate, please see the Renewing a practising certificate page. You can also find information for current Australian legal practitioners in the Professional obligations section.
Application process and fees
To apply for a local practising certificate you must submit an application form. This is done through the Board’s online portal LSB Online.
The application must be accompanied by:
- the appropriate practising certificate fee. Fees will be pro-rated on a quarterly basis (there is no fee for a volunteer/pro bono practising certificate).
- the required Fidelity Fund contribution (if you fall within one of the Fidelity Fund contributor classes).
- evidence that you have or will have professional indemnity insurance as required by the Legal Profession Uniform Law.
- if the application is for a certificate that authorises the receipt of trust money, evidence that you have completed the Board approved course of study. The Board has approved the Law Institute of Victoria trust account seminar for this purpose.
- the completed declaration (which is part of the application process).
You can also view the Board’s policy regarding refunds of practising certificate fees and fidelity fund contributions from the Policies and Guidelines page.
Appearing before a federal court
To appear before any court in the federal jurisdiction (the Federal Circuit Court, the Federal Magistrates’ Court of Australia, the Federal Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia or the High Court of Australia) , your name must be entered in the Register of Practitioners maintained by the High Court of Australia. Section 55B of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) provides that a person is not entitled to practise as a barrister or solicitor in a federal court unless his or her name appears in the Register of Practitioners kept in accordance with that act.
Dates of practising certificates
Your practising certificate is valid from the date specified until the end of the financial year in which it is granted, unless sooner suspended or cancelled. You must renew your practising certificate annually if you intend to continue to engage in legal practice in the following financial year.
Eligibility to apply for a practising certificate
An Australian lawyer (i.e. a person admitted to the legal profession in an Australian jurisdiction) is not permitted to apply for an Australian practising certificate unless eligible to do so. The Act sets out the circumstances in which an Australian lawyer is eligible to apply.
If you are an Australian lawyer, you are eligible to apply for an Australian practising certificate if:
- during the currency of the certificate, you reasonably expect to be engaged in legal practice solely or principally in Victoria; or
- if this does not apply, or is not reasonably practicable to determine, your place of residence in Australia is Victoria, or you do not have a place of residence in Australia. You are not eligible for an Australian practising certificate if you hold or will hold a practising certificate from another Australian jurisdiction for the same year.
The Board will not grant you a local practising certificate unless it is satisfied that you are:
- eligible to apply; and
- a fit and proper person to hold the certificate.
Suitability to hold a practising certificate
In considering whether a person is a fit and proper person to hold a practising certificate, the Board may take into account a wide range of matters. If you apply for a practising certificate or its renewal, you will be required to disclose any of these matters. For more information about the matters the Board may take into account in considering whether a person is a fit and proper person to hold a practising certificate, download the Fit and Proper Person Policy from the Policies and Guidelines page.
If you apply for the grant of a practising certificate, you will be required to disclose any ‘show cause events’ that have occurred in relation to you, after you were first admitted to the legal profession in Victoria or another Australian jurisdiction. There are two kinds of show cause events: automatic and designated.
Automatic show cause events include becoming bankrupt or being found guilty of a serious offence or a tax offence, or being subject to disciplinary proceedings as a lawyer in a foreign country. Notice of such events is required to be given to the Board within 7 days of their occurrence. A written statement is also required to explain why you consider yourself to be a fit and proper person to hold a practising certificate, despite the show cause event.
A designated show cause event is when a notice is served by the Board on a practitioner that alleges:
- legal practice outside of the conditions of a practising certificate, or
- engaging in legal practice when not permitted by the Act, or
- that the practitioner failed to hold professional indemnity insurance as required.
When a designated show cause notice is issued, the recipient must provide a statement explaining why the Board should not vary, suspend or cancel the certificate.
If you have had a show cause event occur since you were first admitted, you are required to disclose that to the Board in your application for grant of a practising certificate, along with a statement explaining why you consider yourself to be a fit and proper person to hold a practising certificate, despite the show cause event.
A confidential and independent service, the Vic Lawyers Health Line, has been developed by the Law Institute of Victoria in support of mental wellbeing in the legal profession. Free services include confidential debriefing with health professionals by phone for lawyers dealing with difficult clients or matters, access to counselling (either in person or by phone, with a regional network of providers), advice for supervisors managing a lawyer with a mental health condition and information about admission and application/renewal of practising certificate requirements relating to mental health, disclosure and health assessments. Vic Lawyers Health Line is administered independently by PPC Worldwide and was funded by the Victorian Legal Services Board Grants Program. Call 1300 664 744 8.00am to 6.00pm or see www.viclawyershealth.com.au for more information.
A practising certificate is granted subject to such conditions as the Board determines appropriate.
The certificate will have at least the following conditions:
- a condition stating whether or not the holder is authorised to receive trust money; and
- condition that the holder is authorised to engage in legal practice:
- as a principal of a law practice; or
- as an employee of a law practice; or
iii. as a corporate legal practitioner; or
- as a barrister; or
- as a volunteer at a community legal centre or on a pro bono basis.
A person may also engage in legal practice as a volunteer at a community legal centre on any ‘type’ of practising certificate. The Board may also impose other conditions that are reasonable and relevant. There may also be conditions imposed by the Act or other legislation, such as the statutory condition relating to supervised legal practice.
Once you are granted a practising certificate, you must practise within the conditions upon your practising certificate. Failure to do so will be grounds for the Board to amend, suspend or cancel the practising certificate.
Supervised legal practice
Unless you practise solely as a barrister, any practising certificate you are granted will be subject to the condition that you engage solely in supervised legal practice until you have completed the required period of supervision.
You can apply for an exemption from the requirement to undertake supervised legal practice. For further information see the Supervised legal practice page.