Now that you’ve finished your law degree, what’s next? You’re hopefully feeling quite a buzz knowing that your years of study, sacrifice and perseverance have paid off, and you’re itching to go to work, in a law firm, not-for-profit, or some other organisation needing your newly acquired skills and knowledge. Before becoming a qualified lawyer, graduates need to complete an important, compulsory and stimulating step: Practical Legal Training (PLT).
PLT is generally started after you’ve completed your degree, or in some cases, beforehand, when you only have two elective subjects left to do in your studies. PLT is distinct to Supervised Legal Training (SLT), as PLT consists mainly of coursework plus some work experience in a law firm, whereas SLT consists of supervised workplace training plus additional training through an external provider.
While PLT includes coursework, it is different from a law degree in that each subject is designed to give graduates experience in applying the law in real-life settings, with mentoring from currently practising lawyers and law professionals, rather than simply on a theoretical basis in the classroom.
PLT is compulsory because it is important that law graduates gain more experience in a broad range of subjects related to the law before they start practising. The subjects on offer were created 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).
At Leo Cussen, graduates can undertake PLT on a full-time or part-time basis, with each course covering 13 subjects, comprising 11 core subjects and two electives:
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 AREAS OF STREAMS (must complete 2)
Administrative Law Practice
Family Law Practice
Consumer Law Practice
Employment & Industrial Relations Practice
Planning and Environmental Law Practice
Wills and Estates Practice
Banking & Finance
At the completion of PLT, graduates are awarded a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (GDLP), which is a prerequisite for admission to the Australian legal profession. It is important to note that PLT providers need to be accredited by a state’s legal admissions board, to ensure that graduates receive proper training to begin their law career.