As the Course Convener of the Postgraduate Diploma of Legal Practice, Skills and Ethics (PDLP) at Monash University, I was a little concerned to read what Andrea Linko, a Leo Cussen Graduate, had stated about our practical legal training course (Lawyers Weekly, issue 288, p23). I would like to address the assumptions that Ms Linko has made about our course which might be shared by other potential applicants and employers as a result.
Ms Linko indicated that she chose Leo Cussen Institute instead of the Monash course, feeling that the latter was “too theory based with a lot of essays.”
As the Course Convener since the inception of the PDLP in the year 2000, I can state that we have never asked a student to write an essay in any of our practice field subjects. Our assessments are practical based exercises, documents that one would draft in practice as appropriate to a particular practice area. The assessments are conducted as if working in a legal office, although subject to time management principles.
In fact, of all the courses offered, it is fair to say the Monash’s PDLP is one of the most practical in Australia given that it runs alongside and in conjunction with a community legal service. All students undertaking either the on-campus or online version meet and assist clients for the duration of the course.
There is no need to find a professional placement or workplace component at the end of the course as this is satisfied during the currency of the whole course giving an important nexus for the transactionally based course content. This is one of the reasons why we only take small numbers of students into our course so we can guarantee that all will work with as many clients as possible over a cross-section of matters.
It is true that we are in the university system, with academic merit as part of the selection criteria for our course and, have the requirement to grade students imposed on us by that system. Feedback from both past graduates and employers has indicated that both are appreciative of this requirement and we believe that our diploma is highly regarded by employers of our graduates in Victoria as a result.
Associate Professor Gaye Lansdell
Course Convener, PDLP