Looking to the past to plan for the future: A decade of practical legal training

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Journal Article
The Law Teacher, 2011, 45 (1), pp. 18 - 44
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The beginning of the twenty-first century has seen significant changes in the legal profession, from the increased use of e-communications and incorporated legal practices, to the internationalisation of lawyers and the globalisation of practice. This raises the question are practical legal training courses providing education that still has value and relevance to students and the profession? Research based on surveying graduates of the Practical Legal Training (PLT) programme at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) was undertaken to assess the value and relevance of our course and to consider what changes, if any, were necessary. The findings confirmed that traditional skills of lawyering and established areas of practice continue to dominate the experience of newly admitted graduates. The findings also indicated there were skills which are not emphasised in our teaching but which were considered important by respondents. The survey also revealed some changes to graduates' career options. This article outlines our research and considers the results within the regulatory framework for the delivery of PLT. We consider that there are some changes to our programme which would improve our graduates' experience in transitioning into their first employment and we suggest that consideration be given to a review of some of the requirements for PLT providers. Our experience is instructive for other providers of practical legal education who may be considering renewal and reform of their courses.
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