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Legal Profession

In South Australia lawyers study at either the University of Adelaide, the Flinders University of South Australia or the University of South Australia to obtain a Bachelor of Laws. After receiving the degree they undertake a course of practical legal training conducted in conjunction with the Law Society of South Australia after which they are 'admitted'.

Law graduates are not entitled to practise the law until they have been admitted to practise in the Supreme Court. Once admitted they are entitled:

  • to prepare legal documents;
  • to advise clients; and
  • to represent clients in all South Australian courts.

Once a practitioner is admitted he or she has a restricted practising certificate, which requires the practitioner to work under the supervision of a more senior lawyer for a period of time before working as sole practitioner. It is a standard condition of all practicing certificates that practitioners comply with a Mandatory Continuing Professional Development Scheme. Interstate lawyers who have been admitted in their own state are entitled to practise in this South Australia, subject to certain conditions.

Law graduates have a number of career choices available to them. After gaining admission to the Supreme Court (which in South Australia allows them to practise as both a barrister and solicitor) they may practise privately or work for a public authority, a government department, a corporation, as an academic at a teaching institution or in many other fields.

The difference between solicitors and barristers puzzles many people. In some States, solicitors work in offices and undertake legal work dealing directly with clients, such as preparing wills, contracts or deeds or doing conveyancing or probate work, whereas barristers undertake court work or advise on matters, but only when instructed to do so by a solicitor. In South Australia, a lawyer can practise as both solicitor and barrister, although there are a number who practise as barristers only. Generally speaking those who choose to practise as barristers join the independent Bar and operate from chambers. Most South Australian barristers voluntarily practise in the same way as their interstate colleagues although some of the larger firms employ or retain 'in house' barristers.

A notary public is a lawyer who is recognised as having the ability to verify the signing of documents or certify that copies of documents are authentic, especially for overseas purposes, and witness documents from another country. A notary public uses an official stamp which they place on official documents when they sign it.

The Legal Practitioners Act 1981 (SA) contains much of the law regulating dealings between clients and their lawyers and all references in this part are to this Act. In addition, the Law Society's Conduct Rules apply to all legal practitioners.


Law Society

178 North Terrace ADELAIDE 5000

Telephone: 8229 020

Legal Profession Conduct Commissioner

Level 10, 30 Currie Street ADELAIDE 5000

Telephone: 8212 7924

Legal Profession  :  Last Revised: Mon Jul 6th 2020
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.