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The Legal Landscape in Australia: An Updated Overview of Jobs

July 12, 2023 0 Comments

The legal profession in Australia is a diverse field, encompassing a range of roles across barristers, solicitors, and other legal professionals.

We wanted to provide an updated overview of the key roles, highlighting their employment outlook, earnings, working hours, industries, locations, and professional profiles. Plus also the key skills, knowledge, abilities, and activities that are highly rated in each profession.

Employment Outlook

The legal profession in Australia is projected to experience significant growth in the coming years. In 2021, there were 9,000 barristers employed across the country, a figure that is projected to increase to 11,100 by 2026. The number of solicitors is also expected to rise, from 97,200 in 2021 to 117,700 by 2026. Similarly, the number of other legal professionals is set to increase from 12,400 in 2021 to 13,800 by 2026. This growth is indicative of the increasing demand for legal services in Australia, driven by factors such as population growth, regulatory changes, and the increasing complexity of the legal landscape.

Earnings and Working Hours

The earnings and working hours of legal professionals in Australia vary depending on the specific role. Barristers typically work full-time hours, with an average of 50 hours per week. They also earn a higher median hourly wage of around $72, with 3 in 4 reporting earning more than $2300 per week and 1 in 4 reporting earning more than $3300 per week.

Solicitors, on the other hand, have an average working week of 48 hours, with more than half regularly working overtime or extra hours. Their average median hourly earnings are around $41, with 3 in 4 reporting earning more than $1300 per week and 1 in 4 reporting earning more than $2100 per week.

Other legal and judicial professionals typically work 45 hours per week. Their average median hourly earnings are around $62, with 3 in 4 reporting earning more than $1900 per week and 1 in 4 reporting earning more than $3600 per week.

Industries

Legal professionals in Australia work across a range of industries. The majority of barristers (68.5%) work in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, while 31.5% work in Public Administration. Solicitors are primarily employed in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (77.2%), with others working in Public Administration (10.9%), Financial Services (3.3%), Transport, Postal and Warehousing (1.6%), and other industries (6.9%). Other legal professionals are more evenly distributed, with 49.5% working in Public Administration, 26.2% in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, 6.5% in Financial Services, 3.7% in Healthcare, and 13.1% in other industries.

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Locations in Australia

Legal professionals are employed across all states and territories in Australia, with the highest concentrations in New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (VIC), and Queensland (QLD). Barristers are most commonly found in NSW (35.4%), VIC (30.2%), and QLD (16.3%). Solicitors are also primarily located in NSW (38.9%), VIC (25.5%), and QLD (17.2%). Other legal professionals have a similar distribution, with the highest numbers in NSW (31.5%), VIC (28.9%), and QLD (16.2%).

The legal profession in Australia is diverse in terms of gender and age. Barristers are predominantly male, with females making up 32% of the profession. The average age of barristers is 46, with a large share being aged 45 to 54. Solicitors are more evenly split in terms of gender, with females making up 51% of the profession. The average age of solicitors is 39, with a large share being aged 25 to 34. Other legal professionals are predominantly female (58%), with an average age of 45 and a large share being aged 35 to 44.

Skills, Knowledge, Abilities, and Activities

Barristers and solicitors share similar skill sets, with high ratings for Reading Comprehension, Speaking, Critical Thinking, and Writing (70% each), and Active Listening (68%). Other legal professionals, however, place a higher emphasis on Active Listening (84%), Critical Thinking (80%), and Speaking (77%).

In terms of knowledge, barristers and solicitors both rate highly in English Language and Law and Government (78% each), Customer and Personal Service (74%), and Administration and Management (65%). Other legal professionals rate highly in Law and Government (85%), English Language (76%), and Psychology (74%).

Barristers and solicitors share similar abilities, with high ratings for Oral Expression, Oral Comprehension, Written Comprehension, and Written Expression (71% each), and Near Vision (66%). Other legal professionals rate highly in Oral Comprehension and Written Comprehension (75% each), Written Expression (73%), and Deductive Reasoning and Inductive Reasoning (71% each).

In terms of activities, barristers and solicitors both rate highly in Negotiating and Resolving Conflicts (90%), Researching and Investigating (85%), and Checking Compliance with Standards (84%). Other legal professionals rate highly in Making Decisions and Solving Problems (89%), Checking Compliance with Standards (86%), and Working with the Public, Researching and Investigating, and Keeping Knowledge Up To Date (85% each).

To summarise, the legal profession in Australia is a diverse and dynamic field, with a range of roles and opportunities. Whether as a barrister, solicitor, or other legal professional, those in the legal field play a crucial role in upholding the rule of law and ensuring justice is served. With the projected growth in the profession, the future looks bright for those seeking a rewarding and challenging career in law.

Read more about Gender Equality in Legal Practice, Building a Successful Legal Career: Balancing Work and Personal Life and The Reality of Long Working Hours for Lawyers in Australia.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as a general overview of the topic and should not be construed as professional legal or medical advice.

Reach out to us today if you have any questions and would like to discuss opportunities!