The Law Admissions Consultative Committee (“LACC”) has posted a copy of the revised Practical Legal Training National Competency Standards for Entry-Level Lawyers (“NCS”).
The LACC website advises that the revised NCS will take effect from 1 January 2015.
Disclaimer: Always check with the relevant PLT provider and Admitting Authority about what is required for satisfactory completion of the practical legal training requirements for admission, before you commence PLT.
The background section in the revised NCS states ‘[w]hichever form of PLT is now followed, all intending practitioners are required to demonstrate that they have attained prescribed competence in the Skills, Practice Areas and Values summarised in item 3 set out in detail in item 5’. This applies to those undertaking supervised workplace traineeships and articled clerkships, as well as those undertaking PLT.
New Optional Subject
Listing of ‘Skills’ component and the ‘Compulsory Practice Areas’ component appears to be unchanged. The optional practice area components were formerly divided into two groups of electives, these are now grouped together, and include a new ‘Banking and Finance’ subject. Trainees can chose from any two optional practice area components.
Commencement of PLT
The revised NCS clarifies the situation with concurrent academic degrees and PLT. An applicant can undertake PLT integrated with the academic degree of at least 3 years full-time study (apart from the time required for the PLT component) AND (this is important) the integrated program is recognised by the Admitting Authority for the purposes of admission to the profession.
For those not undertaking an integrated program, an applicant can commence PLT if no more than 2 subjects of the academic degree remain uncompleted, and neither subject is one required for admission (presumably this means they must be electives), for which the applicant must be enrolled while undertaking PLT, AND the applicant has prior permission from the admitting authority to commence PLT.
Those undertaking supervised workplace training must complete their academic degree before commencing PLT.
Australian Qualifications Framework
The NCS takes into account the requirements of the AQF for Level 8 graduate diploma awards, such as the Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice. The training load must be consistent with the AQF requirements plus 15 days workplace experience.
Where the PLT is not undertaking toward a graduate diploma, training must be of at least 900 hours duration, comprised of 450 hours programmed training plus 15 days workplace experience.
For supervised workplace training, 12 months full-time work is required plus 90 hours of programmed training.
Level of Training
The NCS continue to require that PLT be undertaken as a post-graduate level of training.
Resilience and Well-Being
It is heartening to see the inclusion of clause 4.6, which requires training provides to educate and inform applicants in resilience and well-being matters.
Clause 2.2 – Interpretation of Competency Standards
This sets out more specific details for interpreting the competency standards “elements” and “performance criteria”. It expressly contemplates the use of simulation, and requires documentation for critical reflection activities.
Competency Standards Generally
I have not yet compared the Elements, Performance Criteria and Explanatory Notes with the previous NCS, and hope to do so in future.