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Supervised legal practice

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About 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.

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 provide further information to help supervisors and supervised lawyers understand their obligations.

Once you’ve finished your supervised period, you need to apply to have the condition removed from your certificate (this doesn't happen automatically). This will allow you to engage in legal practice without being supervised.

Supervised legal practice periods

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. 

Who can be my supervisor

If you work in a law practice

Supervision should be provided by another lawyer who works at the same law practice and who holds an Australian practising certificate that is not subject to the statutory supervision condition or a discretionary condition that prohibits them from supervising others. If you work at a different law practice to your supervisor, you must notify us and submit a remote supervision plan for our approval.

If you do not work in a law practice

If you are undertaking legal practice as a corporate or government lawyer, you must be supervised by a person who either holds, or is eligible to hold but exempted from holding, an Australian practising certificate which authorises them to supervise others.

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

Please see our page relating to remote supervision arrangements.

Other resources

Frequently asked questions

In order to complete your supervision period, you must be engaging in legal practice. This is particularly relevant for government legal employment where there may be a mix of legal and non-legal work.

The terms ‘engage in legal practice’ and ‘legal services’ are defined in the Uniform Law. While there is no legislative guidance on the meaning of 'legal practice', further guidance is provided by case law.

We consider the following types of work to be examples of legal practice:

  • giving legal advice;  
  • interpreting and applying legislation or case law for use of a client, whether or not for fee; or 
  • drafting legal documents.

The following examples of work are generally not considered to be legal practice:

  • paralegal work;
  • working as a judge’s associate;
  • policy work, including legal policy work;
  • working as a conveyancer;
  • working as a migration agent; 
  • working as a tax agent; and
  • working as a patent attorney.

Although the above professions work extensively with legislation and often provide advice, they are either not considered to be engaging in legal practice or are specifically exempted by legislation. For example, policy work is expressly excluded from the definition of 'engage in legal practice' under the Uniform Law. If you are unsure whether the work you are doing is legal practice, ask yourself:

  • Does an Act of Parliament or rules of a court require the work to be done by a lawyer?
  • Is the work normally done by a lawyer?
  • Does the work require training or expertise in the law?
  • Who is the client? 

Once the required period of supervision is complete, you must apply to us to have the condition removed from your practising certificate.  You don’t have to hold a current practising certificate to make this application.  

  1. download our template application form and supervisor letter
  2. ask your supervisor(s) to complete the supervisor letter confirming you have completed your period of supervised practice. Please note that we will accept electronic signatures from your supervisors.
  3. complete the application form and statutory declaration.
  4. send both the application form and your supervisor(s) letters to us via our lawyer enquiry form, selecting ‘Supervised legal practice’ from the categories.
  5. It can take several weeks for us to process these requests. If you would like to have the condition removed before your next practising certificate is issued, please follow the steps above before renewing via LSB Online.

 

Generally no. However in some limited circumstances we may agree to a lawyer with a SLP condition being supervised by a principal at the same law practice. Please use the lawyer enquiry form to discuss this with a member of our team. Select ‘Practising certificate’ from the category. 

We may approve this in some cases where the remote supervision relates only to location. You should always create a remote supervision plan at the start of your supervision period. However we may apply some discretion and ask you for evidence of how you were supervised. This may be time consuming so to avoid delays in removing your SLP condition a remote supervision plan is strongly recommended.

There are extremely rare scenarios where someone can be supervised external to their place of practice. If you propose a scenario where you will be supervised by a practitioner at an external entity you should seek approval from us before engaging in this kind of remote supervision arrangement. 

Electronic signatures

We accept electronic signatures from supervisors on the supervisor letter.

Multiple supervisors

If you have been supervised by different supervisors over your SLP period (i.e. you have changed jobs or your supervisor changed) you will need to get all your supervisors to complete a letter. 

If you have been supervised by multiple supervisors at the same organisation (i.e. you report into several partners in the same firm) you only need to get one supervisor to complete a letter.

Leaving an organisation

If you are leaving an organisation we recommend you ask your supervisor to complete their letter before you finish your role. The supervisor letter template will need to be updated to remove reference to sighting the statutory declaration.

Your supervisor is leaving

If your supervisor is leaving the organisation we recommend you ask them to complete the letter before they finish their role. The supervisor letter template will need to be updated to remove reference to sighting the statutory declaration.

If your supervisor is leaving and there is no supervisor to replace them please contact us urgently. You cannot practice unsupervised.

I can’t get a letter from my supervisor, what do I do?

If you are not able to contact your supervisor, or there is a problem getting your letter, please contact us and we may be able to assist you. Use the lawyer enquiry form, selecting ‘Supervised legal practice’ from the categories.

Yes. However make sure you keep good records of the hours worked and obtain supervisor letters from relevant supervisors at each location.

Where you have engaged in legal practice overseas you may be able to apply for an exemption from SLP using the template for exemption on our website.  

These applications will be considered in line with our supervised legal practice policy

Where you work full-time ordinary periods of leave do not need to be deducted from the period of supervised legal practice.

Any additional periods such as long service leave, unpaid leave and parental leave will not contribute to your period of supervised legal practice. 

You will need to pro-rata the time that you have engaged in supervised legal practice. For example, someone engaging in supervised legal practice 2.5 days per week, without any additional periods of leave would complete their supervised legal practice period in 4 years.

To calculate your full time equivalent (FTE) you should times the working days in a period by the percentage of supervised legal practice you engaged in. For example someone engaging in supervised legal practice 3 days per week has a FTE of .6. 

No. You can apply to have your SLP condition removed even if you are not employed.

No. The required period is 18 months or 2 years supervised legal practice (depending on how you qualified for admission). This period cannot be reduced to be completed in a shorter timeframe. 

Yes, however you need to meet certain conditions.

If you work at a different location or entity to your supervisor (including interstate):

If you are engaged as an employee at a law practice and are being supervised remotely due to COVID-19 by someone at the same law practice:

Read more information about remote supervision arrangements.   

You need to meet Victoria’s requirements before you can have your SLP condition removed. Time spent being supervised interstate does count towards your period of supervision. You will need to have any interstate supervisors complete the supervisor letter and provide this with your application.

No. You must be supervised while subject to the SLP condition. 

In certain circumstances, you may be granted an exemption from some or all of the supervision period.  For example, if you have practiced overseas you may be able to claim an exemption.

You can apply for an exemption from SLP using the template for exemption on our website.  

These applications will be considered in line with our supervised legal practice policy

No. You are not permitted to supervise the legal work of other lawyers when subject to the SLP condition yourself. You must have the SLP condition removed from your practising certificate first.

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