MOST YOUNG lawyers in Victoria felt their article clerkship training met their expectations, a survey has revealed, despite speculation last year that the 330 per cent drop in opportunities related to the quality of training.
The Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) has released its survey of articles of clerkship, following a request from the State’s Attorney-General in November last year to “evaluate the level of education, training and guidance” that articled clerks experience.
A-G Rob Hulls said a survey would seek to quantify anecdotal evidence that suggests the articles system varied from law firm to law firm. “The articles system should provide a rich, legally stimulating and nurturing environment for graduates seeking admission to practise law,” he said.
The request by Hulls came after a record number of knock-backs from firms in 2003, and appeared to be an acknowledgement that other options should be considered for Victorian graduates prior to admission to practise. Practical legal training courses would be a possible alternative, it was suggested by sources.
But in the survey, a majority of respondents, making up 77 per cent, felt that their training had either met or exceeded expectations. More than 600 articled clerks were invited to complete the anonymous online survey, but 265 actually took part. Most participants worked in law firms that provided specific in-house training programs, or organised external training for articled clerks.
LIV president Victoria Strong said the survey was the first of its kind and the LIV had established a working party to review the findings and to make recommendations to the A-G. “The survey shows that the majority of articled clerks are happy with the experience and there is certainly strong support within the legal profession to retain articles because this system provides a very effective method of training young lawyers,” she said.
But former LIV president Chris Dale last year criticised article clerkships, claiming feedback from firms suggested they were not an excellent form of pre-admission training. Firms are increasingly having to do more than just have the person work for them, said Dale. “There are obligations now to give tuition in certain areas of practical training over and above just having the person work in the office,” he said.