The Australian Law Students' Association (ALSA) is concerned that law students have not been adequately represented in the proposed national reform of the legal profession.
While supportive of the revised national law and rules released by the National Legal Profession Reform Taskforce in December last year, ALSA has noted the lack of representation of law students in the negotiations for reform.
"In allowing for the establishment of advisory committees to the National Legal Services Board, the revised national law does not make any mention of law students as a group from which the board can draw relevant expertise and experience," said ALSA vice president (education) Melissa Coade. "Students have an important role to play in services administered by the board and would provide unique insight."
ALSA has urged that more be done, particularly in relation to uniformity among vocational institutions. According to ALSA, the opportunity to create greater uniformity has been missed, with access to training for admission remaining inequitable.
ALSA says the national rules have retained the status quo by allowing both the completion of practical legal training (PLT) and workplace placements as satisfying the vocational requirements for admission.
"Inconsistent accreditation of PLT providers means that not all can offer FEE-HELP loans to students for their PLT, making access to the training necessary for admission inequitable," Coade said.
Despite these concerns, ALSA has welcomed the introduction of a national practising certificate.
"ALSA strongly supports the creation of a national practising certificate in the revised National Law. This will reduce the burden that differing regulatory requirements across jurisdictions place upon graduates, universities and PLT providers," said ALSA president Matthew Floro.