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JGLS law grads to get near-direct entry to Australian legal profession (where things for foreigners are much simpler than here)

17 August 2017
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Legally India

JGLS Sonepat is the first from India to make it to a list of colleges from 18 countries for which Australia has relaxed the criteria to practice law indigenously.

A JGLS law graduate interested in practising law in Australia would now have to pass only four of the 11 compulsory Australian law degree subjects, if they have attained a minimum grade in their undergraduate law degree from JGLS.

This would make it possible for JGLS graduates to begin practising in Australia in as little as six months to complete those four subjects, or theoretically even more quickly after their graduation from JGLS if they took distance learning programs from India to get credits for the outstanding subjects, according to a person with knowledge of the process who declined to be quoted on this.

In the absence of such a dual degree scheme it would normally take from 18 months to up to three years or more if attempted part-time while working, for candidates to accumulate credits in all the 11 subjects - formally known in Australia as the 11 Priestly Subjects, explained the person.

Post the recognition, Australia recognises the JGLS LLB degree as follows:

An applicant with a law degree from the OP Jindal Global Law School will be required to study Administrative Law, Equity and Trusts, Federal and State Constitutional Law, Property and any other Prescribed Subjects that have not been successfully completed with a grade of at least A- or a mark of at least 65%, during that degree.

The process

The Law Admissions Consultative Committee (LACC) and the Law Council of Australia (LCA) have recognised JGLS’ LLB degrees under the Uniform Principles for Assessing Qualifications of Overseas Applicants for Admission to the Australian Legal Profession.

It took JGLS around six months right from first applying for recognition until finally being recognised under the Uniform Principles, explained JGLS dean Prof Raj Kumar.

JGLS' Centre for India Australia Studies (CIAS) executive director Shaun Starr, who is also an associate professor and assistant dean at JGLS, told us that JGLS having 12 partnerships with Australian universities, several foreign-qualified teachers and a research center that focuses on Australia, had bolstered JGLS' chances to gain such recognition.

“There are very few law schools which can say that they have such strong ties with Australia and there are probably more chances that our students will consider studying and working in Australia,” Starr commented.

Starr, who had joined JGLS in August 2016 when the law school established the CIAS, claimed that it would not necessarily be possible for every law school in India to apply for its LLB degree's recognition in Australia as “one has to prove that the content and quality of their applied degree program is world class or it is a high quality degree program with the teaching up to a certain standard as expected in Australia, and the content of the subjects is similar to the content of the 11 [Priestly] subjects”.

Kumar commented: “Providing our students with international career opportunities is a key part of our global vision at OP Jindal Global University. The recognition by the LCA is also a part of our vision to promote opportunities for further study and work in Australia. Australia hosts numerous world class law schools and many top law firms. However, despite the similarities between our legal systems, Australia remains a relatively untouched option in terms of further studies and work. We are working to create awareness and access to opportunities for our students in Australia and the recognition of our world class degree programme by the LCA is a welcome step that we must celebrate.”

Australia as a foreign lawyer

Unlike India, Australia is much easier to practise law in as a non-Australian lawyer.

According to the Law Council of Australia's website, any foreign-law degree holder can fly-in-fly-out to advise local clients on foreign law for up to 90 days per year.

In addition, if foreign lawyers who want to spend longer in Australia or set up a practice there for non-local law, they can become “Australian-registered foreign lawyer” by completing “a simple registration process that is purely based on their right to engage in legal practice in one or more foreign jurisdictions”, according to the website, and may enter into “commercial association” with or employ Australian lawyers.

Foreign lawyers are not even allowed to have representative offices in India at the moment.

To gain admission to practice Australian local law, the bar body explains:

To be admitted to the legal profession in an Australian jurisdiction on the basis of qualifications obtained outside Australia, an applicant must usually have:

a) completed a tertiary course leading to legal practice in the applicant's home jurisdiction, which is substantially equivalent to a three-year full-time law course that leads to admission to the legal profession in Australia; and

b) successfully completed subjects, either as part of that course or otherwise, which are substantially equivalent to the areas of study which Australian applicants must successfully complete before being admitted to the legal profession in Australia; and

c) acquired and demonstrated an appropriate understanding of, and competence in, certain skills, practice areas and values, which are substantially equivalent to the skills, practice areas and values which Australian applicants must acquire and demonstrate an understanding of and competence in, before being admitted to the legal profession in Australia; and

d) undertaken, or been exempted from, the International English Language Testing System Academic Module (IELTS) test within two years before seeking admission, and obtained minimum scores of 8.0 for writing, 7.5 for speaking and 7.0 for reading and listening, in the components of that test.

An admitting authority may dispense with one or more of the requirements referred to in items (b) and (c) in the case of an experienced practitioner from an overseas jurisdiction if it considers that the applicant's experience is sufficiently relevant, substantial and current to justify a dispensation.