THE AUSTRALIAN Corporate Lawyers Association (ACLA) and the College of Law are working together to develop a graduate diploma in in-house legal practice, in what could be the world’s first course specifically for company lawyers.
College of Law registrar Adrian Deans said the course, which would be contingent on accreditation with Australia’s higher education authorities, would be the only one of its kind in Australia. Neither the College nor ACLA knew of a similar course anywhere in the world.
The College hopes to begin the course in the first half of 2006 and it would be available nationally with a possible future expansion to New Zealand. A statement from ACLA and the College said the curriculum would be designed to emphasise the “schematic and functional realities” of legal practice within corporations or government.
“I guess for the College the really big thing is that this is our first exploration of higher education courses outside our core business of PLT [practical legal training],” Deans said. “Obviously we do CLE [continuing legal education] but this is, in terms of credentialed award courses, the first time we have done anything other than PLT.”
The College had always seen itself as the academy of the legal profession, he added, so it made sense that it might diversify further into specialist practice related credentialed courses in the future. “We’re not interested in challenging the university law schools in their own particular areas but legal practice and the study of legal practice is very much the College’s preserve.”
Deans said there had already been interest shown in an in-house legal course, mostly from lawyers in private practice who were looking to make the transition.
The graduate diploma, in-house legal practice would be a problem-based course designed by the College in consultation with ACLA to suit the needs of intending, new and experienced in-house practitioners alike.