The road to becoming a personal injury lawyer in NSW
Have you ever wondered what’s involved with becoming a personal injury lawyer? Perhaps you’ve been watching one of the many law-based drama series on television, or you’re studying legal studies in high school and think you might be suited to a career in the law. Maybe you’re just after a career change?
For me, the journey began when I was only 8 years old. I was in Year 3 in primary school and was just beginning to develop what would become a lifelong interest in Debating and Public Speaking. I must have wanted to have a career where I could use the debating and public speaking skills I was already developing from a young age.
Throughout the rest of my school years, every critical decision I made in terms of subject selections, was done with one eye on becoming a lawyer. Of course, I chose to study Legal Studies for my High School Certificate.
After finishing high school in 2007 I accepted a place at the University of Western Sydney, where I studied a double degree in Law and Arts. It is common for law students to complete a double degree, as many law schools do not offer a straight law degree to undergraduates.
From 2008, I would spend the next five years at university as a full-time student, whilst holding down a casual job. Towards the end of my degree, I began working as an intern at the Motor Accidents Authority where I gained valuable experience with motor vehicle cases.
I graduated from university with a double degree in Law and Arts, in April 2013. I spent the rest of 2013 working at the Motor Accidents Authority, which counted towards the practical legal experience I needed to have before becoming qualified as a lawyer.
Graduating university and gaining practical experience is not the final step in the process. In 2013 I also completed my Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, at the College of Law in St Leonards. I studied this course part-time whilst I worked, ultimately graduating from the College in August 2013.
Once you have graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB) and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (a GDLP) incorporating professional experience, you can then apply to the Legal Profession Admissions Board to be admitted as a lawyer.
This involves having people who have known you for many years (but who are not related to you) provide a character reference about you and your fitness to be a legal practitioner.
Once your application has been accepted, you are invited to attend a ceremony at the Supreme Court of New South Wales, during which the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court admits each and every applicant as a lawyer of the Court. During the ceremony, each new lawyer takes an oath to uphold the high ethical standards of the profession and signs his or her name on the roll of lawyers in New South Wales.
My admission ceremony was on 11 October 2013, and was the proudest moment of my life. In many ways, it represented the end of a journey I began when I was 8 years old, but it also represented the beginning of my career in the law, a career in which I am very proud to be able to apply my skills to assist clients to put their lives back together after being injured in a serious accident.
A career in the law is hard work, but very rewarding, and I would recommend it to anyone who shares my passion for the law and its importance to our society.
Written by Brett Watts.
Brett Watts is an Associate in Tom Goudkamp and Ruth Hudson’s Practice Group. Brett represents people who have been injured in a variety of accidents including motor vehicle claims and public liability claims.