In the face of increasing numbers of law school graduates the Law Institute of Victoria has just agreed to partner with the NSW
College of Law to provide accredited online PLT for Victorian graduates
Victoria currently has more law graduates than there are article places — a trend that looks set to continue.
It is estimated that in the next two years there will be 1,340 law graduates in Victoria vying for approximately 650 articles places and 285 placements in the practical legal training (PLT) courses offered by Leo Cussen and Monash University.
This leaves an estimated shortfall of 405 graduates. The increase in graduate numbers can be attributed to more law courses and more places in those courses being offered. Melbourne, Monash, La Trobe, Deakin and Victoria universities now offer law degrees.
Law graduates from Victorian universities also face competition for article places from graduates in other states and territories. The result is a highly competitive marketplace for pre-admission to the legal profession.
While PLT courses absorb some law graduates there remains a shortfall.
In November last year, the Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls announced a review into pre-admission training.
The review’s announcement prompted a lively debate amongst the profession about the future of articles of clerkship.
According to Law Institute CEO John Cain, the profession’s overwhelming response was that articles continue to play an important role in providing a high level of training and an environment in which graduates can obtain the necessary knowledge, skills and practical experience.
A key component in the move towards a national legal profession is consistency in graduate admission requirements throughout Australia.
The provision of an online version of the PLT course is one way to provide more students with a convenient yet effective method of pre-admission training. In light of this, the Law Institute has entered into partnership with the College of Law to bring to Victoria a new opportunity for graduates to complete a PLT course. The Council of Legal Education has recently approved this course. The Victorian Professional Program Online will commence in 2005 with both full- and part-time models offered.
Cain said the program would provide another much needed avenue for increasing the number of law graduates who can obtain admission to practice in Victoria.
“While traditional articles continue to serve a valid role in the legal profession, practical legal training courses also play an important part in ensuring that those graduates that wish to enter the legal profession are afforded every chance to do so,” Mr Cain said. The College of Law has successfully run their courses in NSW he added, and the LIV was pleased to be able to form a partnership and provide Victorian graduates with a flexible alternative to the traditional articles year.