Market research-Job readiness of law graduates and entry level solicitors

Job ready demographic snapshot

You've had your say - and now the results are in!

In 2021, the Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLE) at Bond University was retained by Queensland Law Society to conduct research into assessing the job readiness of law graduates and newly admitted lawyers entering private practice.

QLS identified the need for the research after continued concerns were raised by QLS members about the gap between employers’ expectations of law graduates and new solicitors’ skills and competencies developed in the current legal education framework in Queensland.

This research was the first of its kind to be undertaken in the profession and the results will be used to inform research that is taking place at a national level by the Council of Australian Law Deans (CALD) and the Australian Professional Legal Education Community (APLEC). 

results Job ready results snapshot

Results synopsis

The research team has identified numerous areas for improvement, including:


  • Research validated a gap between employers’ expectations of law graduates and newly admitted solicitors’ skills and the skills and competencies resulting from the current legal education framework in Queensland.
  • Strong response supporting a practical overlay to subjects, assessments, activities and formalized substantive supervised practical work experience. 
  • No single solution to improve the job readiness of entry level solicitors in private practice – need threefold approach with a focus on practical application:
    • Review university education syllabus and assessments
    • Review PLT syllabus, activities and assessments and introduce a substantive practical work experience period
    • Foster a lifelong learning and training ethos in legal practice
  • Difficulties in securing work experience
  • Unrealistic expectations of competence
    • Newly admitted solicitors believing they are more ready than they are
    • Employers expecting more
    • Disparities in wage expectation
  • Substantial legal work experience prior to admission is now critical – it is a non-negotiable for many employers (replacing the practical experience formerly provided by Articles)
    • Pre- admission legal work experience (up to several years) has now become an informal component of the legal education ‘system’ – to be job ready and to secure a role. 
    • Substantive pre-admission legal work experience is no longer provided for in the formal system
    • Those that follow the system only, are less employable.  

For more detailed information on the results see the full report, The job readiness of law graduates and entry level solicitors in private practice.

Where to from here?

QLS intends to use the research outcomes to work with all stakeholders and participants educating, training, admitting and licensing solicitors to address any gaps in skills and competencies identified, including:

  • reviewing best practices in legal education and practical legal experience across Australian and other jurisdictions in developing skills and competencies
  • developing recommendations to respond to any identified gaps in skills and competencies that can be implemented at the tertiary, practical legal training or post admission levels
  • fulfilling Queensland Law Society’s role in supporting its members and take an informed and evidence-led leadership role in the development of the next generation of legal practitioners to ensure the continued health and success of the Queensland legal profession.
what's next

taking action

What action has already been taken

QLS has provided submissions to LAC, CALD, ALEC and the Attorney General seeking to work with these bodies on a unified approach to reform.

This reform is centred around:

  • Reviewing the requirements of the Priestly 11 to ensure that instruction and assessments are sufficiently practical to prepare graduates for employment
  • Consideration to whether additional compulsory subjects should be added to law degrees
  • PLT coursework syllabus needs to be reinvigorated to ensure that activities and assessments properly meet the competency standards for entry level lawyers
  • A period of concurrent or post PLT work experience is necessary to ensure that competencies can be refined and applied in a practical setting prior to admission and commencement as a solicitor
  • Elements of the supervised traineeship and the learnings from those who have undertaken it, may provide a new model that takes advantage of both modes of training

QLS will continue to act as a conduit for our members to ensure further feedback is contributed to the national review and reforms.

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Our members' voices have been crucial to help inform this important national conversation. Thank you.

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