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Supervised legal practice

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Supervised legal practice

As a newly admitted lawyer, your first practising certificate will have a supervised legal practice condition. This means that you must be supervised while you engage in legal practice. Your supervised legal practice period is either 18 months or two years, depending on how you qualified for admission. During this time, you can only engage in legal practice if you are supervised by a properly qualified supervisor.

Newly admitted interstate and international lawyers (including from New Zealand) practising in Victoria are also subject to this condition.

Once you’ve finished your supervised period, you can apply to have the condition removed from your certificate. This will allow you to engage in legal practice without being supervised.

The supervised legal practice condition does not apply if you’re a:

  • barrister, or
  • foreign lawyer that only practises foreign law in Victoria.

Our guidelines for supervisors and information on remote supervision arrangements provide further information to help supervisors and supervised lawyers understand their obligations.

The required period of supervised legal practice

Your period of supervised legal practice begins after you’ve been admitted as a lawyer in Victoria. How you qualified for admission will determine your supervision period:

  • If you undertook practical legal training under the supervision of an Australian lawyer (including articles of clerkship), you must complete the equivalent of 18 months full-time supervised legal practice.
  • If you undertook other practical training, like the courses provided by the Leo Cussen Institute or the College of Law, you must complete the equivalent of two years full-time supervised legal practice.

If you practised part time, only the time that you were actually practising can be counted towards your supervision period. 

Removal of the supervised legal practice condition

If you’ve completed your supervision period you must ask us to remove the condition before you can practise without supervision. You can find out more about this on the How to remove your supervised legal practice condition page. 

Exemption from supervised legal practice

Under certain conditions, you may qualify for an exemption from some or all of your supervised legal practice period. For example, you may be able to claim an exemption for any time that you spent practising as a barrister, or practising overseas. 

You can apply for an exemption by submitting to us:

  • a statutory declaration;
  • supporting documentation, including a letter from your supervisor that has evidence of your period of supervised legal practice; and 
  • if you’re in government practice, a letter from your employer evidencing how long you were in legal practice.

You can use the template Statutory Declaration when applying for an exemption.

Remote supervision arrangements

‘Remote supervision’ is where a supervised lawyer and their supervisor are either based in different locations or employed by different law practices.

We must approve a remote supervision arrangement, and the onus is on the supervised lawyer to apply to us for that approval.

You can find more information about this in the Supervised Legal Practice Policy and our guidelines for supervisors.

Considerations

When planning a remote supervision arrangement, you must consider: 

  • the logistics of contact, how regular one-on-one meetings will be conducted and how you can contact your supervisor at all other times;
  • how your supervisor will manage your workflow if they’re not employed in the same law practice or are based in a different location;
  • how correspondence and advice will be reviewed and feedback provided to you as well as the frequency of this review and feedback;
  • how your supervisor will access files and documents to review all your legal work. You must carefully consider issues of client confidentiality; and
  • your supervisors experience in the areas of legal practice you will be working in.

We will consider whether the proposed remote supervision arrangement is adequate and in line with our .

If you will be the only lawyer at a law practice, we’re unlikely to approve a remote supervision arrangement because you’ll effectively be acting as principal of a law practice.

If we approve your remote supervision arrangement we strongly recommend that all of your engagement letters to clients clearly state that you’re engaging in supervised legal practice and include your supervisor’s contact details.

Removing your supervised legal practice condition when you have been remotely supervised

If you have been supervised remotely, when you apply for your supervised legal practice condition to be removed from your practising certificate, you must attach a copy of the remote supervision arrangement that we approved to your statutory declaration. Your statutory declaration should also detail the nature of the supervision you received as well as the other information required in the template Statutory Declaration.

For more information, see the How to remove your supervised legal practice condition.

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