Finance and health the most common background of students switching to a career in law

A survey of mature-age law students reveals only three per cent feel daunted by technology and changes to work practices, while 60 per cent are excited by the disruption taking place in the industry.

The survey conducted by the College of Law (the College), examines the background, motivation and attitudes of the growing number of people choosing to make a mid-career switch to the law. Seventy-three mature-aged PLT students from around Australia participated in the survey. The survey was prompted by the increase in the number of mature-aged students undertaking the College’s Practical Legal Training (PLT) – a prerequisite for entry into the profession. The number of students aged 30 and older doing their PLT with the College has increased by 43 per cent in the last two years.

While most mature aspiring lawyers feel positive about the way their future profession is being transformed, a relatively high 37 per cent are unsure how it will affect them.

Ms Ann-Maree David, Executive Director at the College said it was encouraging how open this more mature-cohort of PLT students are to the changes taking place in the profession.

“The speed and extent of change in the legal profession is enough to shake the confidence of even seasoned legal professions. However, for mature-aged people seeking to switch to a career in the law the overwhelming sentiment is optimism.”

“Many of these aspiring lawyers come from industries that have already experienced wide-ranging disruption, such as the banking and health sectors. Many will be choosing to leave their existing field of expertise and enter the legal profession because they know there will be opportunities whenever an industry is disrupted.”

“Career transitions are no longer unusual and are becoming the norm. This means careers paths are coming to resemble a ‘jungle gym’, with moves in and out of and across industries and professions. Employees can expect to build an arsenal of credentials including skills and experience which will facilitate their moves from job to job.”

“Life-long learning is now an integral feature of all professional lives. With its broad range of short courses and professional programs, the College can assist lawyers at all stages of their careers. The College has also established the Centre for Legal Innovation to co-ordinate the legal profession’s response to the changes taking place in the industry,” Ms David said.


The majority (60 per cent) of the mature-aged PLT students were in their forties, while 32 per cent where in their fifties and another eighth per cent were aged 60 or older.

The survey examined previous professional background of mature-aged PLT students, identifying a wide range of careers amongst those switching to law. The largest group come from banking, finance or accountancy (15 per cent), followed by health-related professions (13 per cent). Education (10 per cent) and IT (10 per cent) were other common backgrounds.

Most of the mature-aged law students have obtained their legal academic qualification while still in employment, indicating a high-level of commitment to their career change. Seventy-two per cent are employed either full time or part time, while another 23 per cent are currently looking for work.

For the overwhelming majority of mature-aged PLT students the ambition is to work as lawyers, with 93 per cent indicating they intend to practise once they finish their PLT qualification.