Who can practise
To practise law in Victoria, you must:
- be admitted to the Australian legal profession or hold a registration certificate as an Australian-registered foreign lawyer; and
- hold a current Australian practising certificate issued in either Victoria or New South Wales.
You must be admitted
All admissions in Victoria are managed by the Victorian Legal Admissions Board.
When you’re admitted to the legal profession in Victoria, you become an officer of the Supreme Court of Victoria. You must meet your professional obligations that come with being an officer of the Court under the Legal Profession Uniform Law and its supporting legal professional rules.
To appear in front of a federal court, your name must also be admitted to the High Court of Australia.
You must hold a practising certificate
You must hold a practising certificate before you can begin legal practice. In Victoria, we issue practising certificates for all solicitors, while the Victorian Bar issues practising certificates to barristers on our behalf.
We will only grant you a practising certificate if you are:
eligible to apply; and
a fit and proper person to hold the certificate.
You’re eligible to apply for a Victorian-issued practising certificate if you anticipate that you will be based either solely or mainly in Victoria for the duration of your certificate.
If you live in Victoria but don’t know where your practice will be based, or you will practise Australian law overseas, you are eligible to apply for a Victorian practising certificate.
You cannot apply for a Victorian-issued practising certificate if you hold or will hold a practising certificate from another Australian jurisdiction for the same year.
When you apply for your practising certificate or want to renew it, we’ll consider whether you’re a fit and proper person to hold one. We’ll ask you to tell us things about you in your application and take these into account when considering your application.
Our Fit and Proper Person Policy outlines what we’ll consider.
Show cause events
Some events are called ‘show cause events’. This is something that casts doubt on whether you’re a fit and proper person to hold a practising certificate, including serious criminal offences, tax offences and bankruptcy.
You must notify us within 7 days of a show cause event happening to you. For further information about what makes up a show cause event and how to notify us, see the Show cause page.
Conditions on a practising certificate
Your practising certificate may carry conditions which we can add and remove as appropriate.
- whether or not you are subject to supervised legal practise;
- whether or not you’re authorised to receive trust money; and
- the type of legal practice you are authorised to engage in (as a principal or an employee of a law practice, a corporate lawyer, a government lawyer, barrister, or as a volunteer at a community legal centre or on a pro bono basis).
You can volunteer at a community legal centre on any type of practising certificate.
Once your practising certificate is granted, you must abide by its conditions. If you don’t, we can amend, suspend or cancel it.
Interstate-qualified and foreign lawyers
If you hold a current practising certificate from another state in Australia, or from an overseas jurisdiction, you may be eligible to practise in Victoria with special conditions.
Conditions for interstate-qualified lawyers
You can engage in legal practice in Victoria, but your practise will be subject to the same conditions imposed on your practising certificate in your home jurisdiction. We may also apply conditions to your practising certificate, if appropriate.
Conditions for foreign lawyers
Subject to certain exemptions, you must be registered with us as a foreign lawyer before you can practice the law of a foreign country within Victoria. You can’t practise Australian law.
If you hold a practising certificate issued in Australia, you can practise the law of a foreign country in Victoria, provided you are authorised by that foreign country to practise their law.
Exemption from registration as a foreign lawyer
If you meet one of the following criteria, you don’t need to apply to us to be registered as a foreign lawyer:
- you’re registered and authorised to practise as a lawyer overseas, but you only occasionally practice foreign law in Australia (that is, for no more than 90 days in any 12 month period); or
- you’re subject to a restriction imposed under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) that limits the period that you may undertake work or transact business in Australia, you don’t maintain an office in Victoria, you don’t become a partner or a director of a law practice, and you haven’t had a previous registration certificate suspended or cancelled.
What can a foreign lawyer do?
If you’re an Australian-registered foreign lawyer you can:
- do work or conduct business involving the law of the foreign country that you’re registered or authorised for;
- provide legal services in tribunals that are not bound by the rules of evidence;
- provide legal services in relation to arbitration proceedings or conciliation, mediation and other forms of consensual dispute resolution; and
- provide legal services outlined in the Legal Profession General Uniform Rules 2015.