Information for interstate and overseas practitioners regarding practising in Victoria, Australia and joining the Victorian Bar.
To practise law in Australia you must first be admitted as an Australian Lawyer. This will entitle you to practise as a solicitor in private practice or as a corporate (or in-house) or government solicitor.
In Victoria the process for admission to practise law is managed by the Victorian Legal Board of Admissions.
Australian lawyers wishing to practise law in Victoria
A practitioner holding a current practising certificate in any jurisdiction in Australia may practise in Victoria. They must also have an approved insurance policy that covers them (s 211, s 212 LPUL). See the Fact Sheet of the Legal Services Council regarding professional indemnity insurance here. Professional indemnity insurance provided to NSW practitioners is approved under the Uniform Law.
Lawyers from overseas wishing to practise law in Victoria
If you have qualified and/or been admitted* in a country other than Australia, the relevant information can be found here.
*In some countries this is referred to as 'being called to the Bar'. This often leads to confusion. In Australia, being approved to practise law is referred to as Admission. 'Coming to the Bar' means practising as a barrister before the courts, not as a solicitor in private practice.
Once you are admitted to practice in Australia, you can apply to join the Victorian Bar and practise as a barrister. The typical pathways to joining the Victorian Bar are:
As an Australian Lawyer who has not previously practised as a barrister
Applicants admitted to practise law in Australia may apply to take the Victorian Bar entrance examination. Eligible applicants who pass the entrance exam will be invited to take the Bar's readers' course. On satisfactory completion of the course you may be invited to apply sign the Roll of Counsel.
Interstate Barristers wishing to practise in Victoria
If you are a practising member of an interstate Bar Association and you wish to move your practice to Victoria as your principal place of practice, you may apply for the grant of a local barrister practising certificate. There is no formal requirement to join the Victorian Bar Association but you are encouraged to do so. A current certificate of good standing from your home jurisdiction is required.
If you have been a barrister for 12 months or longer, you may be exempt from taking the readers’ course, as outlined in Section 4(2) of the Application & Reading Regulations (below) and may apply directly to become a member of the Bar.
If your principal place of practice is in another State or Territory and you are a member of an independent Bar Association, you may apply to join the Victorian Bar as an Interstate member.
If you are an overseas barrister and you have been admitted as an Australian Lawyer or have a reasonable expectation of becoming an Australian lawyer in the near future, [see FAQ: I am an overseas qualified lawyer and I want to practise law in Australia. What do I need to do?] you may apply to join the Victorian Bar and you may be exempt from taking the readers' course (to verify, refer to the Application & Reading Regulations, above).
A past member of the Victorian Bar wishing to rejoin
If in the past you have resigned from the Bar to practise other than as a barrister or to work in another area you may rejoin (subject to Bar Council approval) by completing an application to re-sign the Bar Roll. If you have been a barrister for 12 consecutive months or longer within the past 10 years, you are exempt from the readers' course and reading period (to verify, refer to the Application & Reading Regulations, above).
Application process for those exempt from the readers' course
If you believe you should be exempted from the readers’ course, you are returning or you wish to become an interstate or overseas member, and need to fill out an application to re-sign or sign the Bar Roll, please contact Michelle James on 9225 7985 or email email@example.com
Once you have satisfied the requirements of the Bar, you must obtain a practisiing certificate before you can commence practising as a barrister in Victoria.
Grant of a practising certificate as a barrister is subject to the statutory condition of having completed the readers' course and reading with a mentor to the satisfaction of the designated regulatory authority (the Victorian Bar) (s.50 LPUL). It is further subject to the approval of Bar Council as delegate of the Legal Services Board.
The current annual fee for a barrister practising certificate can be found at on the website of the Legal Services Board + Commissioner here.
How to apply - create a law practice as a sole practitioner
To apply for a local practising certificate you must first hold a law practice as a sole practitioner.
To create your law practice, complete the form Notification of New Law Practice. Because you will be a sole practitioner barrister, the form does not require
Your certificate of currency is processed concurrently with your application for professional indemnity insurance (see Professional Indemnity Insurance).
Once you are notified that your law practice has been created you may log in to or register with LSB Online. Your user name is your Practitioner number (P00.....)Once logged in select the Forms page and the grant or variation option and follow the prompts. Much of the data is pre-filled.
At the "Practice" tab, select "add practice" to attach yourself to your Law Practice as a sole practitioner.
The Bar Office will be notified once your application has been submitted and will contact you regarding completion of the process.
Before commencing to engage in legal practice, a law practice must obtain professional indemnity insurance (s.45(1)(b) LPUL). At all times while a law practice is engaged in legal practice, a law practice must maintain professional indemnity insurance.
The primary insurer for the Bar is the Legal Practitioners Liability Committee (LPLC).
The current LPLC policy for barristers is available here.