To practice as a lawyer in Australia, you need to complete your Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP) - also referred to as Practical Legal Training, or PLT - before you can apply to be admitted as a legal practitioner. (When you see PLT or GDLP, note that these terms are used interchangeably and refer to the same course). Why ANU? This is really obvious to me because I chose to leave practice and teach into the ANU GDLP program two and a half years ago. For me it was an easy decision to make – the program is flexible, professional, current and most of all, incredibly valuable to new lawyers.
It has recently occurred to me though, that I have never actually asked any of my students why they chose to do their GDLP with us. I had always just assumed that the reasoning would be the same. So I have asked, recently, some of my students and the reasons I have received have been heartening.
Some students have told me that our flexibility was the main reason they chose us – especially the fact that but for the initial Becoming a Practitioner course (BAP), they can do the entire GDLP online. I totally get this – this is important to me too with two small children at home to look after.
Other students explained that they looked far deeper into the course because things like elective options and assessment format were important to them. We have a great range of electives that are really relevant to practice in today’s employment market (I proudly designed and now teach the Banking and Finance Law elective), so yes, I could see this.
Our assessment format is attractive because we don’t have ‘exams’ like the undergraduate degrees do – rather, we assess on a Competent, Not Yet Competent, or Higher Level Performance. I had not actually ever thought about this as attractive, but students have told me that this was really important to them because after 5 or so years of full time study the last thing they wanted to do whilst trying to prepare for being an actual lawyer, was worry about achieving an extra mark or 2 on an assessments.
Then came the clincher. I just loved this feedback. Students have told me that they asked for their employer’s preference, with some even exploring potential employer preferences, and the ANU GDLP came out on top. I was so pleased that so many of my colleagues from practice share the same view as I do – that the ANU GDP really is the course they want their junior lawyers to graduate from.
I am proud to say that I have been working with my ANU Legal Workshop colleagues over the past months to enhance our program even further. The legal profession is an ever-changing platform, with changes in the law and the increasingly competitive job market, so we have undertaken somewhat of an ‘enhancement’ to the program to ensure that it remains at the cutting edge of Professional Legal Training (PLT).
There have been some minor tweaks to the length of some of the courses, and the introduction of a new capstone program which will further enhance the practicality of our course. Some courses have been merged, others more streamlined. We have been listening to what the professional are saying about what they want their new lawyers to be exposed to, and we have incorporated a lot of that into the course. The upshot is you are able to complete your entire GDLP in 6 months if that is what you want to.
Overall, the integrity of the course remains unchanged, and the ANU GDLP is still at the forefront of employers’ preferences. I am honored to be able to teach the lawyer’s of tomorrow, and to do that with the ANU, which has again been ranked Australia’s number 1 University, well, who wouldn’t be proud of that.
Tracey is a Lecturer with the ANU College of Law. She teaches Civil Litigation Practice and Banking & Finance Law in the GDLP program, which is part of the ANU Legal Workshop. Tracey is a member of the GDLP/MLP Cabinet in her capacity as Student Engagement and Professional Liaison Coordinator, and is the Secretary/Treasurer of the ANU College of Law Wellbeing Initiative. Prior to joining the ANU, Tracey worked in private practice in the Australian Capital Territory for 12 years, predominantly as a litigation lawyer.