What is a Juris Doctor Degree? Career Options, Salary Expectations & More

    Can a law firm own another business?

    When pursuing a legal career, a Juris Doctor (JD) is a typical pathway that many professionals take after prior experience in other industries. 

    Completion of an online Juris Doctor qualification can open up opportunities to potential career options across all sorts of industries – from the corporate suite to a courtroom, there are options available to suit your preferred industry and interests.

    Let’s explore some of the options that are available upon completion of a JD, and some of the notable individuals that have come from a range of alternative professional fields to settle on a career in the legal profession.

    What career options are available with a JD?

    Upon completion of a JD, there are a variety of career options available. In fact, depending on your interests, the holder of a JD may never have the step foot in a courtroom.

    For those that wish to pursue work in the courtroom, there are a variety of legal careers. Some examples include:

    • Lawyer: providing legal advice in areas in areas such as contracts, claims, and the resolution of disputes.
    • Barrister: representing parties in a court of law – depending on the field of law, this could involve representing parties in criminal cases or civil litigation.
    • Judge: nominated by a court to hear cases, make decisions, and conduct proceedings. Roles such as Chief Justice are considered the highest echelon of legal careers in Australia.

    These are just some of the possible legal careers with a JD in Australia. There’s a variety of career options outside of the classroom, such as a workplace adviser and policy adviser. Depending on your interest and existing qualifications, there’s almost certain to be a need for a legal professional in nearly every field.

    What is the starting salary for legal careers in Australia?

    Depending on the career path that you pursue, experienced legal professionals can potentially earn salaries far exceeding the average wage (currently $92,000 per annum). Typically, a JD graduate’s salary begins at $60,000 annually.

    The average salaries for a number of experienced legal professionals, according to payscale.com, talent.com and the Victorian Government can be found below:

    • Judge: $376,000
    • Magistrate: $324,000
    • Barrister: $110,000
    • Solicitor: $142,000
    • Lawyer: $145,000

    As you can see, there is significant salary potential in a legal career. Incomes will naturally vary based on experience, and the career path that you take, but ultimately, a career in the legal sector can both be professionally and financially fulfilling.

    Notable career shifts

    There are a number of notable Australians that have made the jump into the legal profession after prior experience in other industries. Let’s explore some of the individuals that made the leap into the law, and where they came from.

    Corinne Grant

    One of Australia’s most famous JD career changes is former TV presenter and comedian, Corinne Grant. In fact, just a decade ago, Grant was a TV regular on programs such as ‘Good News Week’ and ‘Rove’.

    In pursuing a career in the law, she set out to challenge herself – speaking to the New Daily, she cited her pursuit in law as “… set out to do something that appealed to what I enjoyed most: Working in a team, on projects … something personally rewarding and intellectually challenging”.

    Today, Corinne practices Employment Law, providing legal advice and representation in civil litigation matters, showing that no matter the career, a legal career is an option.

    Constantinos Kilias

    One of the most well-known films in Australia is The Castle. The film details the epic David and Goliath battle of the Kerrigan family, fighting to save their home from compulsory acquisition.

    In the film, a part-time actor by the name of Constantinos Kilias played the role of Farouk, a neighbour of the family trying to save his home. A not-so-well-known fact at the time was that Constantinos was also working to become a barrister, having been admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1986.

    Interestingly, Constantinos continued his legal career after the completion of the film, and attained one of the most highly regarded roles in the legal profession, being named a magistrate in 2018.

    As you can see, a JD qualification can be a valued pivot into a successful legal career. No matter your current career, it’s definitely worth considering a potential career in the law, if that’s something that interests you.


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