Entering the field of law is a long process that requires many hours of study and dedication. Several steps need to be fulfilled before you can practise as a lawyer, the first one being the completion of a law degree. Following this is a compulsory course known as Practical Legal Training or PLT. But how exactly does PLT differ to a law degree? We’ll explain how.
There are two main ways in which people can attain a law degree, the first being the undertaking of a Bachelor of Law as a university undergraduate, which is a three-year program. The second is as a graduate, for those who have already completed an undergraduate degree in another discipline; this is known as the Juris Doctor, and it is also a three-year program.
During a law degree, students learn about law from a theoretical perspective, as well as helping to develop critical-thinking skills, problem solving, and an understanding of the different fields of law through a variety of electives. As the law is an important facet in many different areas of society, studying law is a complex and incredibly challenging task, but also highly rewarding.
After the completion of a law degree, you will then have a thorough understanding of how laws are made and how the law is used throughout society. However, you will then need to gain more hands-on experience and learn how to apply the law in different fields. This is where PLT comes in.
If a law degree is all about learning, PLT is all about doing, giving you practical skills to make you a highly qualified lawyer by engaging you in real-life scenarios concerned with the law. Some of these tasks might include drawing up and negotiating contracts, advocating for your clients in courts and tribunals and designing innovative solutions to your client’s legal problem.
At Leo Cussen, the PLT course comprises a mix of coursework, consisting of skills, values and practice areas, followed by a professional placement in a law firm. Students can choose to complete the course as full-time or part-time delivery. The differences are:
Full-time PLT is a 24-week course, comprising:
– 21 weeks of coursework (around 25 hours per week);
– three weeks’ professional placement.
Part-time PLT is a 45-week course, comprising:
– 42 weeks of coursework (around 15 hours per week);
– three weeks’ professional placement.
The subjects studied aim to give graduates a broad view of the kinds of legal work you can encounter in your professional role as a lawyer, in order to satisfy the National Competency Standards for Entry-Level Lawyers as set out by the Legal Profession Uniform Admission Rules 2015 (which can be read here).
The topics you’ll cover at Leo Cussen include core skills and practice areas as well as two elective topics which you can choose in consultation with your mentor:
SKILLS AND VALUES
Lawyer’s Skills (communication skills, interviewing, letter writing, drafting, negotiation and advocacy)
Problem Solving (problem analysis, statutory interpretation, practical legal research)
Trust and Office Accounting
Work Management and Business Skills (including professional placement, file management and risk management)
Ethics and Professional Responsibility
Wellbeing for Lawyers
CLIP – Client/Lawyer Interviewing Program
CORE PRACTICE AREAS
Commercial & Corporate Practice
Criminal Law Practice
CHOICE of 2 ADDITIONAL PRACTICE AREAS from the list below
Administrative Law Practice
Family Law Practice
Consumer Law Practice
Employment & Industrial Relations Practice
Planning and Environmental Law Practice
Wills and Estates Practice
Banking & Finance
Following the completion of PLT, you will obtain a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice, allowing you to apply for admission through your state’s Admitting Authority. Once admitted to practice, you can apply for a Practicing Certificate and begin working as a lawyer.
As you can see, the route to becoming a lawyer is long and difficult, with a law degree and PLT being two of the most vital steps. With great experience and industry knowledge, Leo Cussen is an organisation you can trust to provide you with high quality training to set you up for a successful career as a fully qualified lawyer.