Queensland Country Life
Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Juris Doctor jobs: What can you expect from an Australian Law Degree?

Completing a Juris Doctor Degree opens the doorway to a broad range of potential career pathways within the legal field.
Completing a Juris Doctor Degree opens the doorway to a broad range of potential career pathways within the legal field.

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The legal profession offers a wide array of pathways and potential career opportunities for those that are willing to take the plunge into a litigious field.

However, ideas of what a career change of this kind may entail are often difficult to gauge, and choosing a specific career within the law industry isn't always as simple as you'd like it to be.

If you're considering a career change into the legal profession, you may have heard of a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. Designed for people who come from a diverse range of academic and industry backgrounds, completing a JD opens the doorway to a broad range of potential career pathways within the legal field.

Do you need a legal background to get a JD?

One of the advantages of choosing to pursue a legal degree is that you don't need prior legal education. There are many notable examples of individuals who have made the leap from other professional fields to a career in law.

A classic example of this is former comedian, turned lawyer, Corinne Grant. After over a decade in the media sector as a performer and host, in 2013, Grant commenced studies for a JD in Melbourne. In the years since completing her JD, she's successfully transitioned into a legal career, working with both private legal firms and government departments.

Speaking with Rob Hulls, Grant reflected on her time in the media, and what inspired her to make the shift to law.

"I got to this stage in my career where I was bringing on all these legal minds that had been changing things, and I decided that I didn't want to be the person that was bringing them on stage - I wanted to be the one that was making that change," she explains.

What career paths open up if you acquire a JD?

With further education, career paths previously unseen become available. Completion of a JD is no exception, with opportunities arising in both the legal industry and beyond.

Some examples of legal careers include:


It's obvious to think that completion of a JD can lead to employment as a lawyer, and you'd be right. Originating in ancient Greece and Rome, a career as a lawyer is a respected, highly-paid, multi-faceted role.

Lawyers often deal in the provision of legal advice, in areas such as contracts, dispute resolution, and claims.

There's a broad range of specialisations available as a lawyer, varying from public sector governance, to criminal law and forensics. Depending on the interests of a JD holder, there's a potential career available to fit nearly every interest.


A barrister is a specialised legal career, often noted as a type of lawyer who deals in courtroom work. Advocating for a client's rights is an essential part of the legal process, as a courtroom can often be daunting for those brought before a judge.

Often, the role of a barrister may involve the representation of clients across various contexts and claims.

From representing parties in legal disputes in the District Court to matters of significant public importance in the Supreme Court, a barrister is expected to be hands-on in a variety of frameworks.

Other career paths

Fascinatingly, acquiring a JD doesn't mean that you have to spend your days in a courtroom. In fact, many career paths exist that don't look like what you see on Netflix.

One such fascinating pathways include those of a policy adviser. A JD enables a policy adviser with the skills to analyse and advise in corporate and government.

For example, a policy adviser may be able to provide insights as to specific legal frameworks that apply to corporate acquisitions, or research to determine if proposed legislation conflicts with existing regulation.

Completion of a JD is not just a pathway to the legal industry - the career that is right for you will reflect in the qualifications you complete and the experiences you pursue.

What potential salary could you earn as a JD?

A graduate Juris Doctor's salary typically begins at $60,000 per annum. After some experience, many experienced legal professionals earn salaries far exceeding that.

For example, Juris Doctor graduates that apply themselves in the profession after many years may be appointed to distinguished positions such as magistrate or judge.

A distinguished senior judge such as a Judge of Appeal could be earning as much as $483,558 per annum, according to the Victorian Government.

More than just a salary, a JD qualification can also provide a valued reputation. Completion of a JD can open the potential to pursue a global career in law, as a degree recognised in many foreign legal jurisdictions.