It is vital that once law students graduate, they are given the opportunity to develop their skills and apply their understanding of the law so that they can become effective lawyers. There are many benefits of Practical Legal Training. The most productive way to achieve this is through Practical Legal Training (PLT). This blog will explore what exactly PLT is and how Leo Cussen can help you gain the necessary experience through a Practical Legal Training course.
What is Practical Legal Training? PLT is the application of a graduate’s theoretical legal knowledge in a real-world setting through a structured training program. PLT is usually undertaken after you have completed your law degree, although it is possible to begin a Practical Legal Training program beforehand, provided that you have no more than two elective academic subjects left to complete. Completing PLT is one of the requirements to be a lawyer in Australia.
What graduates learn during PLT must adhere to the Competency Standards for Entry-Level Lawyers, developed by the Australasian Practical Legal Education Council (APLEC) and the Law Admissions Consultative Committee (LACC) in 2002 and updated in 2013.
The Standards set out the expectations for lawyers practising in certain fields of law. For example, for Banking and Finance:
‘An entry-level lawyer who practises in Banking and Finance should be able to demonstrate competence in advising clients on some of the common ways to finance commercial transactions and they should be able to demonstrate competence in drafting simple loan agreements and associated security documents, and in taking the actions required to perfect those securities.’
Performance criteria further set out the expectations within each standard. For Banking and Finance, these are Preliminary Investigation, Planning, Documentation, Due Diligence, and Finalisation, with the student needing to demonstrate competency within each criterion.
While law school focuses on the theoretical side of the law, a Practical Legal Training program focusses on applying this theory the way you will in the practice of law, such as through analysing a client’s problem, providing written or oral advice, drafting legal documents, and negotiating with other parties. A PLT course is all about preparing you for your future as a practising lawyer, giving you the skills to operate on a day-to-day basis, as well as network with other lawyers and make you employable for law firms.
PLT is seen as the second essential step in the pathway to becoming a lawyer, with the first being the completion of a law degree. An individual must fulfil Practical Legal Training requirements before joining a legal practice as a lawyer. The Leo Cussen PLT program comprises 13 topics and a professional placement:
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 ARAS 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
The final stage involves professional placement for three weeks in a legal practice to gain relevant, hands on legal training in Australia.
While a great way to learn is by interacting in person with instructors and other students, given the current health crisis, PLT can now be completed online in either full-time or part-time modes. Leo Cussen is here to support your PLT, whatever the circumstances.
For more information about Leo Cussen PLT courses or for any questions regarding Practical Legal Training in Australia, contact the Leo Cussen Centre for Law today!