Australia - New South Wales International Trade in Legal Services

Australia - New South Wales International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector Legal Profession Act 2004:
Under what title do lawyers practise?

Barrister, Solicitor, Legal Practitioner, lawyer.

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?

See information for Australia

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

See information for Australia



Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

Appearing in court or advising on the law of New South Wales.

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?


What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

Sole practitioner, partnerships, incorporated legal practices, multi-disciplinary partnerships

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 


Revised Professional Conduct and Practice Rules 1995 (Solicitors' Rules):  

New South Wales Barristers' Rules:

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

The Law Society of New South Wales must be informed of your intention to practise law.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

The Law Society of New South Wales:
and the New South wales Bar Association:


Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

 See information for Australia

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

See information for Australia

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

A foreign lawyer can obtain a limited licence entitling them to offer advisory services in foreign and international law (i.e. become a foreign legal consultant).
The relevant legislation is the Legal Profession Act 2004 (NSW) (Part 2.7), Legal Profession Admission Rules 2005 (NSW), and Legal Profession Regulation 2005 (NSW). These are available online at

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

Once a licence has been granted, there are ongoing requirements: the licence holder must not hold a license to practice foreign law in any other state or territory, must notify the Law Society as soon as practicable every time practice details change and must notify the Law Society within 7 days if they are charged with a serious offence.
There are approximately 50 foreign registered lawyers in NSW (as at June 2010).

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

In order to qualify for a limited licence, an applicant must meet a series of requirements including in relation to: educational and professional qualifications; registration in a foreign state; fitness and good character; and professional indemnity insurance.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Yes
Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances? Yes. Under limited circumstances. – See information for Australia.
Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers? Yes.  See information for Australia


Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

Foreign firms are permitted to establish a commercial presence (a permanent office) to offer advisory services in foreign and international law.
Foreign firms which employ an Australian Legal Practitioner Director, may practise Australian law subject to several conditions imposed by legislation.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

See information for Australia.

Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc) No
Is there a quota on the number of licences available? No
Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have? No
Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they?

Foreign firms may offer advisory services in home country and international law including arbitration and mediation.

Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? N/A
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? There are specific rules in relation to use of names by lawyers or law firms. See the Legal Profession Act 2004 for further information. Foreign lawyers and firms are treated the same as local lawyers in the application of these rules.
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL There is no explicit foreign law firm licensing regime which regulates these arrangements.


Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm? See information for Australia
May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm? Yes
Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer? Yes
Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer? Yes


Other useful sources or comments or links

Law Society of NSW:
NSW Bar Association:

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Law Council of Australia (November 2013)