June 26, 2020 4:33 pm
After you’ve spent three years with your head buried in law textbooks and endlessly studying for exams, you’re probably keen to graduate and get to work as a lawyer. Yet there are still several significant steps you need to complete first, one of them being Practical Legal Training (PLT). During PLT, you will gain hands-on experience, as well as undertake a placement within a law firm. In this blog, we’ll explore all the particulars regarding the work placement and what you can expect.
PLT is compulsory for all law graduates who want to work as legal practitioners. While a big part of PLT involves being instructed in different topics, at the end of the course all PLT students are able to put this training into real-life context by completing a professional placement within a legal office.
The professional placement is an exciting opportunity to put all your training into practice and play an active role in real matters and cases. For many PLT students, the professional placement is one of the first times they will get to work in a real-life legal office. Many placements give students a chance to meet with clients, attend court hearings, and draft actual legal documents. In many ways, the placement is a bridge between legal studies and legal practice, and an important step towards your life as a legal practitioner.
There are several different ways that a professional placement can be organised. For those who undertake the onsite course, Leo Cussen can arrange the placement on your behalf, taking into account a Trainee Preference Form where you list your preferred law field and organisation.
The second option is to arrange the placement yourself, which requires you to complete a Placement Arrangement Form which gets approved by Leo Cussen. Trainees who undertake the online course are required to organise their own placement, but have access to plenty of help and guidance from Leo Cussen’s placement advisor.
There are many different options for where you can complete your placement, which can include:
– law firms;
– government departments;
– courts or tribunals;
– in-house legal departments;
– community legal centres;
– barristers’ chambers (subject to special conditions);
– other organisations offering legal work experience recognised by Leo Cussen as satisfying the requirements of the PLT.
During the professional placement, the work might include tasks such as:
– attending interviews with clients and conducting interviews in minor matters;
– reviewing documents, including contracts, court documents, agreements, wills etc.;
– observation of, or involvement in, office procedures;
– liaising with internal and/or external clients or stakeholders;
– arranging, preparing for and attending settlements;
– attending conferences, mediations, conciliations, court hearings, or other dispute resolution forums;
– drafting documents of a straightforward nature (eg Transfers, Probate Applications, simple Wills, Affidavits of Documents, etc).
The requirements for who can supervise you during your placement are someone who:
– has at least three years of post-admission experience practising law; and
– is admitted to the legal profession; and
– holds a current practising certificate; and
– is currently practising law; and
– and is currently of good standing in the legal profession.
To get the most out of your professional placement, you should meet with your supervisor to discuss mutual expectations, such as who will be supervising you and the kind of tasks that will be allocated to you.
Depending on your mode of study, there is usually flexibility to complete the placement at any time during the course, as long as you are able to attend any onsite commitments. In Victoria, placements run for 15 days (full-time equivalent), and all trainees must complete a minimum of 105 hours of work experience within that period. In Western Australia, placements run for 20 days (full-time equivalent), and all trainees must complete a minimum of 140 hours of work experience within that period. The recommended daily breakdown is seven hours of work and one hour of lunch per day. In many cases, it is possible to complete the placement part-time if preferred.
At the conclusion of the placement, an exit interview will be conducted with your supervisor, where you can reflect on the experience and discuss overall feedback. Students will also fill out a Trainee Feedback Form, whilst supervisors will complete a Supervisor Feedback Form.
For any other enquiries about PLT, please contact Leo Cussen to discuss with one of our friendly staff.