What is the high school grade required for becoming a lawyer?

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If you have ever looked in to studying law at uni, you have probably noticed that the high school grade, or ‘ATAR’, required for becoming a lawyer, or at least gaining entry to a law school is very high, particularly for the more prestigious universities.

Sifting through all the different university websites and the UAC pages can be time consuming so as HSC season approaches, we’ve compiled a quick overview of the main law schools in NSW and their ATAR requirements.

While the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne both claim the position of Australia’s oldest law school, the University of Sydney was certainly the first law school in NSW.

It’s Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB) has a cut-off mark of 99.7.

The entry mark required for 2014 entry into UNSW law was also 99.7.

The mark required for UTS law was 97.05. It was 96 for Australian National University law and 95.9 for Macquarie University law.

The University of Western Sydney’s minimum entry score is 90 and the University of Notre Dame also has an indicative entry score of 90.

These marks are just the lowest possible marks to get into a law degree, although various combined degrees have higher ATAR cut-offs.

What can I do if I didn’t get an ATAR over 90?

Fortunately, if you don’t fall into the very top percentile of HSC graduates, there are other options you can look at if you want to study law.

If you didn’t get an ATAR over 90, you may not get a main round offer from your university of choice, and while some unis do offer bonus points in some circumstances, the top law schools won’t.

It is possible to transfer into a law degree from another course – however this often still requires high marks in the first year of studies.

This option is probably best suited to students who only just missed the ATAR cut-off and perform well in their first year at university.

And if you are still desperate to study law, you may want to consider some of the lesser-known universities.

Many more universities are teaching law these days and offer positions with lower cut-offs.

For example, the University of New England has a cut-off of 84.4, it’s 75 at the Australian Catholic University.

The University of Sydney also offers a program run by the Law Extension Committee.

It is a Diploma in Law, but is the same as a law degree for the purposes of being admitted as a lawyer. This option is a lot cheaper, too.

What about post graduate law?

Most universities offer postgraduate law degrees and entry is not calculated simply by ATAR cut-offs, although depending on the uni, they might be considered.

This can definitely be an option for you if you missed out on an undergraduate place or simply decided later on that you would like to study law.

Universities offer postgraduate Bachelor of Laws or, increasingly common, Juris Doctor degrees.

The material (depending on university) may be essentially the same as what is covered in the undergraduate course and in some programs, such as the Sydney Uni JD, students in both streams are taught together in some subjects and ranked alongside each other.

This means that a postgraduate degree will be similar to an undergraduate in everything but name.

Post-graduate course may offer two streams of places – Commonwealth-supported and non-Commonwealth supported.

You will usually need a higher ATAR and university marks to get a Commonwealth-supported place and it costs a lot less.

Fees for a Commonwealth supported place at the University of Sydney in 2015 are $10,266 per year while for non-Commonwealth supported places you can expect to pay a whopping $36,000 per year.

So beating 99.7% of your colleagues in the HSC is not the only way to become a lawyer.

But looking at the governments proposed measures for cost cutting, the ATAR required for becoming a lawyer may not be your greatest concern.

Measures to decrease government funding to universities and the deregulation of fees, mean that expensive fees may be more of a prohibitive factor than high marks.

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Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with 25 years of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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