I attended the Practical Legal Training Course (PTC) at Leo Cussen Centre for Law in 2009 because it was a well-established educational institution. As an international law graduate, I found it could offer me a pathway to obtain admission as an Australian Lawyer. It was an alternative to a traineeship, which at the time was difficult for me to obtain due to the economic environment and not being a permanent resident.
Leo Cussen is in the heart of down-town Melbourne, close to the courts, Barristers’ Chambers and law firms. Leo Cussen’s training and study areas are comfortable and they arrange the professional placement for students. I found this particularly important, as I lacked the local connections.
At Leo Cussen, I enjoyed the simulation of real tasks in a legal practice. For example, in conveyancing, we interviewed the client, managed the transaction, wrote letters, supervised the settlement and compiled folders for filing.
The PTC is all about practice and made me feel more confident to enter the legal workforce. The lecturers are real legal practitioners with experience from the real world. The course is structured to be a combination of theory and practice. Trainees are required to complete simulated files (called Current Matters), designed to develop the core skills such as drafting, research and project management skills. Many tasks require teamwork, which helps the trainees cultivate collegial spirit. Trainees receive vigorous feedback from mentors. By graduation, trainees have obtained a substantial amount of practical knowledge for legal practice.
The system of mentorship is what in particular I would like to highlight for future trainees. Each PTC trainee has an experienced legal practitioner as his or her mentor. The mentor monitors the development of the trainee, marks the trainee’s file work and gives regular feedback with respect to their performance. The system is very similar to the performance review system undertaken by most law firms. In a law firm, a supervising partner would play a similar role as a mentor at Leo Cussen. If a trainee can do well in listening to his or her mentor at Leo Cussen, they will also do well in listening to their supervising partner at work.
I found my training at Leo Cussen set me up very well for my current role as a junior lawyer in a large Australian law firm.