“War Stories” in PLT – Discussion

I manage a discussion group on LinkedIn, “Practical Legal Training Educators Australasia”. It can be a quiet affair, in which I share online sources that I think might be of interest. Recently, a good discussion  emerged around the use of “war stories” in PLT.  You can have a look, and contribute, here.



From North America: David Curle: Legal Education in the Age of the MOOC

In his blog post, Curle observes:

“just as solutions for the legal services industry are coming from outside the industry including new technology and borrowed business models, so are law schools starting to see influences from elsewhere in education”

“[a] tightly-woven web of stakeholders that each hold parts of the reform puzzle; creating a new legal educational system that is truly forward-looking will require the cooperation, effort, and some sacrifice by the schools themselves, faculty, the bar, and legal ethics regulators.”

The blog post does say that much about MOOCs, however massive open online courses are at least symbolic of how information and computer technology continues to generate social change, which extends to how professions evolve, and how practitioners will work.

Imagine a circumstance in which it is possible to complete academic legal qualifications through a MOOC; what implications might flow for the practical legal training component of legal education?

Could regulators strategically drop the Ormrod compartmentalised 3-stage model of legal education, and favour integrated models of pre-admission legal education?

As a PLT practitioner, what kind of work might you need to do to scaffold the practical legal education of a MOOC educated graduate?

I suggest a bit of horizon-scanning involves war-gaming such scenarios, in planning for the future.


Map of Revised National Competency Standards for PLT

NCS 2015 PNGI recently posted about the revised National Competency Standards for Entry-Level Lawyers that apply to Australian practical legal training (PLT). The revised standards take effect from 1 January 2015.

I mapped the revised competencies and the ‘lawyer’s skills’ elements. Clicking on the thumbnail at left will open a full size picture. The map provides an “at-a-glance” summary.

For simplicity, I have not include all the elements or performance criteria for each competency. I have included the ‘lawyer’s skills’ elements, because often attract attention in discussions about the competencies.


Revised PLT Competency Standards from 1 January 2015

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.



So, half way through PhD candidature, I made this poster…

Summer School Poster Smaller SnipThis weekend I attended a summer school for higher degree by research students at Deakin University lovely Waterfront Campus.

There was a poster presentation session, in which I was not going to participate, but the organisers urged more people to sign up, so I obliged. Those who follow this blog will know that I do make videos, but I have never actually made an academic poster before.

Just to make it more interesting, the hard drive crashed on my laptop computer at the beginning of 2 week stay in Arnhem Land. So I needed to cobble this poster together with some online tools, and without some material on which I would usually draw.

This was an interesting project, and I did not want to get too deep into some of the later work I have been doing, because I am still working on it and thinking about it. Another consideration is that most of the audience at this presentation would not be familiar with PLT, so this needed to be concisely explained. Anyhow, if you click on the picture above, that will open a high resolution PDF copy of the poster. Let me know what you think?


Summer School Poster Smaller


Betwixt and Between – PLT Practitioners – Scholarship of Which Practice?

prezI attended and presented at a symposium today, “Doing Cultural Studies – Interrogating Practice”, at Swinburne University of Technology.

The title of my presentation was, ‘Betwixt and between – Practical Legal Training Practitioners – scholarship of (which) practice?’.

You can view my Prezi here. You can download a copy of my Presentation Notes here.

This is an interesting cross-disciplinary event for me, and I will post separately about my impressions from the keynotes and other sessions.


British Sociological Association Annual Conference 2014

I am happy to be attending the BSA annual conference next April at the University of Leeds, to present some interim findings from my research. Presenting at this conference represents an interdisciplinary turn for me, appropriate given my interest in practice research and social relationships and institutions involved in practical legal training generally, with a focus on scholarship of teaching and learning.


A taxonomy of educational objectives for PLT? An anniversary.

A few APLEC conferences ago, I presented some personal insights arising from a comparison of Bloom’s taxonomy and Marzano & Kendall’s ‘new taxonomy of educational objectives’, and how these could contribute to instructional design in PLT.

Following the conference, I posted a page on the topic on this blog, with an embedded SlideShare viewed 5000 times since! Clearly it attracts a lot of attention from outside of Australian PLT.

My PhD research has drawn me way from the instructional design side of things for the time being, but I still believe the taxonomies are very useful tools, and I think about them often. At the 2013 APLEC conference, I was really struck by the passion and dedication so many PLT practitioners demonstrated for their work through the conference presentations. I believe we can draw on tools like the taxonomies, and the dedication of PLT practitioners, to improve PLT in a methodical and focused way. I also believe this approach would improve the personal satisfaction of PLT practitioners with their work. One of the benefits of using taxonomies as a tool – to help make explicit the relevance and importance of a learning task, and the resources available to learners to undertake the task – these elements are essential to motivate law graduates to engage with PLT.


Symposium – Doing Cultural Studies: Interrogating Practice

doing cultural theoryI am pleased I will be attending and presenting at the “Doing Cultural Studies: Interrogating Practice” intermezzo symposium at Swinburne University of Technology on 3 December 2013. This will be a great opportunity to gain some interdisciplinary insights about culture and practice from emerging scholars in this area. The abstract for my proposed presentation is here.