The Northern Daily Leader

What can you do with a Juris Doctor degree in Australia? Career and salary expectations

There are a few ways to become a lawyer, and attaining a Juris Doctor Degree is just one of them. Picture supplied
There are a few ways to become a lawyer, and attaining a Juris Doctor Degree is just one of them. Picture supplied

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Law is one of the oldest professions in existence, and with thousands of individuals entering this profession every year, it's still one of the most desirable. Choosing a career in law is a path chosen by hard-working and principle-focused individuals.

There are a few ways to become a lawyer, and attaining a Juris Doctor Degree is just one of them. If you are unsure whether to study a Bachelor of Laws or a Juris Doctor Degree, what a typical career trajectory is, or what salary expectations are, read on.

Let's outline the finer details of this popular course and what can be done with a Juris Doctor degree.

What is a Juris Doctor Degree?

A Juris Doctor degree is a course that can be taken to become a legal practitioner, offered to graduates of law and graduates of other disciplines.

This degree will typically be taken by candidates who already have a degree and are not under the same prerequisites as a candidate exploring an undergraduate.

Those who graduate with a Juris Doctor Degree may find more positions and careers open to them as they have additional qualifications and can harness the knowledge of both fields.

Generally speaking, the most common degree that is undertaken prior to the Juris Doctor Degree is a Bachelor of Commerce, although graduates may come from a range of other disciplines.

What is the difference between a Bachelor of Laws and a Juris Doctor Degree qualification?

A Juris Doctor Degree and a Bachelor of Laws carry the same weight in the eye of prospective employers and industry professionals, the only difference is the course delivery which has been adapted to cater to graduates.

In both courses, there will be subjects that overlap and Bachelors and Doctor Degree students will belong to the same class, although often the assessment type can vary to encapsulate differences in experience.

Both a Juris Doctor Degree and a Bachelor of Laws qualification are both internationally-recognised qualifications, although graduates may have to take on additional training if practising in another country to equip a qualification.

What is a typical career path after a Juris Doctor Degree?

According to the Melbourne Law School graduate survey of 2019, Juris Doctor Degree graduates have a 97 per cent employment rate. This is a significant indictment of the profession and the opportunities that present to law graduates.

Juris Doctor Degree graduates have held high-profile positions like Judges, Judges' Associates, public prosecutors, barristers, corporate lawyers and lawyers.

There are also graduates who pursue a position as lawyers within a not-for-profit organisation, government lawyers, lawyers within a community sector or parliamentary positions.

What are the salary expectations of a Juris Doctor Degree graduate?

Gauging an accurate representation of salary is always challenging, as there are many contexts and outlying factors that can skew a realistic figure. According to the average starting salary for a Juris Doctor Degree is $95,000, and graduates who have several years of experience can expect $145,000.

Lawyers who enter a workplace with salary sacrificing, which is common in not-for-profit organisations, will find the salary is higher still with the tax-free payment options.

Salary will vary greatly depending on whether the position is a lawyer operating in a law firm, a barrister or any other legal role.


There are many opportunities that await a graduate with a Juris Doctor Degree, and if the first degree qualification is related to law, then greater roles will be available.

Be sure to explore the merits of all the universities and colleges that offer this course, and understand what the commitment is and how that will set you up for success in the legal field.