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Supervised Workplace Training: The new pathways to admission

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Cite as: (2008) 82(9) LIJ, p. 77

Firms and law graduates now have a choice between two different avenues, each of which will lead to admission to practice.

Law graduates have two choices when it comes to gaining admission to practice – supervised workplace training or practical legal training.

The following is a brief overview of the two avenues to admission.

Supervised workplace training (traineeships)

  • 12 months of on-the-job training;
  • trainees are paid employees; and
  • trainees are obligated to complete 10 subjects (competencies).

Practical legal training (PLT)1

  • six-months duration;
  • a combination of practical work experience at a firm and a majority of course work (either online or onsite at the education facility); and
  • course cost is paid for by the student (about $6000-$7000 for Australian residents).

Traineeships replaced articles of clerkship from 1 July 2008. Any articled clerk who commenced their articles before 1 July is still under the articles scheme.2

Any law graduate who begins at a law firm after 1 July (a trainee) will be required to comply with the Legal Profession (Admission) Rules 2008 (the Rules).3

For a comparison of the two systems see table below.

Trainee responsibility for compliance

Firms need to understand that all trainees are personally responsible for compliance with all the formal requirements of the Rules.

Assistance is often offered by a firm (e.g. through their human resources or learning and development departments), despite the addition of the new r3.07 setting out the obligations of a trainee’s supervisor, this does not absolve the trainee from personal responsibility to ensure that all their documents are in order.

All documents must still be lodged with the Board of Examiners for Legal Practitioners in person and the trainee may be asked questions about the documents being lodged. Thus each trainee should be familiar with the content and significance of those documents.

The Board of Examiners

The Board administers the Rules and one of its main purposes is to help all candidates through the admission process. Trainees are encouraged to seek the Board’s advice and assistance at any time. For further information go to http://www.supremecourt.vic.gov.au.

Frequently asked questions

The LIV website has an extensive list of answers to some of the most frequently asked questions in relation to the Rules. Firms, together with trainees, are encouraged to read these FAQs as they may well answer your initial questions.

The Young Lawyers’ Section of the LIV continues to be available to members to assist with articled clerks and traineeship inquiries. Technical questions regarding an interpretation of the Rules should be directed to the Board.

For further information or a copy of the Rules and a sample training plan, see http://www.careers.liv.asn.au/clerkship.asp.

Supervised workplace training

Articles of clerkship

Within the first month of commencing a traineeship,4 the trainee must lodge with the Board of Examiners their schedule 4, together with a full academic record and a “training plan”.5

Within the first month, an articled clerk lodged with the Board of Examiners their schedules 4 and 5 together with a full academic record.

Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Lawyer’s Skills, and the risk management elements under Work Management and Business Skills must be taught externally by an accredited provider.6

No formal training requirements.

A supervisor may supervise one trainee at a time unless they have sought the prior approval of the Board of Examiners;7 The Board has requested that applications for approval be made as soon as possible for the 2009 intake.

A person could be a principal of no more than two articled clerks at a time unless they had sought the prior approval of the Board.9

A person may be a supervisor of a trainee if they are an Australian lawyer engaged in legal practice (or a government, corporate commercial or community legal officer), working principally in Victoria, and have worked as either (or as both) a practising solicitor or a practising barrister for a total of at least five years (of which at least three years were spent working as a solicitor).8 The rules also allow a graduate to apply to the Board to be supervised by a judge.

A principal under the articles system was required to be in private practice for a continuous period of not less than five years.10

DONNA ADAMS is the Young Lawyers’ Section manager. She can be contacted at dadams@liv.asn.au, ph 9607 9379 or see http://www.liv.asn.au/members/sections/
younglawyers.

1. See “New traineeship regime on track”, June 2008 LIJ, pp26-27 for more on the practical legal training options.

2. This is a reference to the now revoked Legal Practice (Admission) Rules 1999.

3. The Rules commenced on 1 July 2008.

4. The Rules, r3.13.

5. A copy of a training plan is available from http://www.careers.liv.asn.au/content.asp?contentid=92.

6. These three subjects are: each element of Lawyers’ Skills; the Risk Management element of Work Management and Business Skills, and Ethics & Professional Responsibility. See r3.09 of the Rules.

7. The Rules, r3.08(3).

8. The Rules, r3.05.

9. Legal Practice (Admission) Rules 1999, r3.11.

10. Or they had sought approval of the Board – see r3.11 of the Legal Practice (Admission) Rules 1999.

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