Are law graduates ready for the real world?

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

CPLE Director and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law at Bond University, Professor Nick James, says this extensive, significant project is one of great demand and that Bond is very pleased to have the opportunity to work on it with QLS.

“[This topic] has been of considerable interest to QLS, but also to law schools and legal employers alike, but too often discussions and debates about the topic are informed by conjecture and anecdotal evidence,” Professor James said.

“This project will involve a thorough and meticulous evaluation of the expectations and requirements of a wide range of stakeholders and the extent to which they are being met by graduates and identify strategies for closing the gap between them.


Professor Nick James

“The outcomes of this project will be of considerable benefit to QLS, to law firms, and to law schools, and I am pleased that the Centre has been given the opportunity to make such an important contribution to addressing this issue.”

Why is this needed?

QLS identified the need for the research after continued concerns were raised by QLS members regarding the job readiness and competency of newly admitted solicitors.

The survey will highlight disconnect between ‘desired skills’ and ‘actual skills’ of law graduates and newly admitted lawyers. It will also investigate the discrepancy between employer expectations of the skills required for legal practice, as well as the current legal education framework helping people develop these skills.

As the legal profession is currently undergoing a significant period of disruption, and cultural and technological changes are poised to reshape the delivery of legal services, this research is needed now more than ever.

How will it work?

Working closely with QLS, the project is being undertaken by academics within the CPLE, and the Chief Investigators on the project are Associate Professor Francina Cantatore, CPLE Co-Director Professor Rachael Field and Director of the GDLP at Bond, Tanya Atwill.

The research team and QLS have developed an online survey to be administered by QLS to employers, newly admitted lawyers and other stakeholders regarding the skills and competencies expected of newly admitted solicitors.

The research team will also conduct focus groups with new graduates, newly admitted lawyers and employer groups to ascertain their perceptions of graduate lawyers’ preparedness for legal practice.

A gap analysis will then be performed between the survey/interview data with the competency standards for practical legal training and requirements for academic legal knowledge for admission to the legal profession in Queensland.

As part of the research, trends in other jurisdictions will be considered, along with the impact of industry disrupters such as cultural and technological change.

The Bond research team will also review best practices in legal education and practical legal experience across Australian and other jurisdictions in developing the skills and competencies identified through the research, and will develop recommendations to respond to the identified gaps between expectations and reality.

Key outcomes

The final report will include:

  1. informed and targeted recommendations to address the identified gaps in graduate skills and competencies, and
  2. effective ways for QLS, law schools and PLT providers to implement these recommendations.

Not only will this survey aim to identify any gaps between employer expectations and graduate abilities, it is positioned to help the profession including the tertiary education sector seek ways to address what is seen by many, as one of the most pressing challenges facing the legal profession.

To learn more and participate in the research, please go to qls.com.au/jobreadiness

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