After you finish your law degree, you might be eager to jump straight into the legal field and begin working. However, before you can start work as a lawyer, you need to complete a course known as Practical Legal Training, or PLT. Here are some of the ways in which PLT will help you gain employment and be a more appealing candidate for law jobs.
PLT is a specialist course designed to enhance the skills of law graduates so that when you join the legal field, you are much better prepared to face the many challenges. While a law degree is mainly focused on academic knowledge, PLT is a unique opportunity to apply that knowledge to real-world situations, guided by suitably qualified instructors who are also practising lawyers.
During PLT, you won’t do any tests or exams. Instead, you will practise the many tasks that lawyers carry out in legal offices by running cases and files in a simulated law firm setting. This means you will essentially be treated as a first-year lawyer, and given tasks that reflect the real-world of legal practice .
The cases and files you work on will include:
- Property transaction: you will sell or buy residential property
- Commercial transaction: you will sell or buy a business
- Civil Litigation: you will represent a plaintiff or defendant in a breach of contract case
- Criminal Charge: You will defend a client accused of theft
You will also get to choose the following electives:
- Elective one: choose between Administrative law or Family law
- Elective two: choose between Consumer, Employment, Planning/Environment, Wills/Estates, or Banking/Finance law
Through running those matters, you will develop skills in areas such as advocacy, negotiation, drafting and client interviewing – all the key skills that employers look for when hiring graduates.
At the end of the PLT course, you will also complete a professional placement in a legal office.. The placement is a valuable opportunity to apply all the skills you learnt in the PLT to the real world, and to meet other lawyers in the profession.
Leo Cussen has a dedicated placement advisor to help you identify suitable placements and support you through the whole experience.Many graduates opt to work in an organisation or business that is focused on the particular area of law in which they might like to specialise. Understandably, by undertaking this placement in a real business, you will have a much greater chance of employment if you apply yourself and make a good impression, and many graduates actually gain work in the same business where they complete their PLT placement.
Even if you don’t gain employment at the same place you complete your placement, it is a great opportunity to develop your contacts and networks within the profession, as many jobs are obtained not simply because of what you know, but from who you know.
After PLT you need to apply for admission through your state’s relevant Admitting Authority. You are then eligible to apply for a restricted practising certificate which entitles you to work under the supervision of a senior lawyer. You will be subject to supervised practice for 24 months, but it is not a requirement that the entire period be carried out in a single firm, so it is possible to gain experience in several organisations during this time
At the completion of your supervised practice, you can choose to apply to have the restriction lifted on your practising certificate. This also allows you to work as a supervising lawyer or sole practitioner. By this stage, you will already have several years of experience within the legal field, making you a highly sought-after employee for many law firms.