It’s a huge relief to finish law school, and when I finished my law degree I felt a massive imaginary weight lift off my shoulders and life was good. But a couple of months later, I decided to bite the bullet and start practical legal training (PLT) so that I could get admitted as a lawyer.
I had mixed feelings about starting PLT because I was pretty horrified at having to participate in mock court hearings (public speaking is not my forte). While I dreaded that, I looked forward to learning about how the law works in practice and considered that if anything, PLT will either be so great that I’ll want to practice law or I’ll know that practicing law is not for me.
My transition from law school to PLT has been pretty straightforward. The most important thing to keep in mind is that PLT and law school are completely different species. Like the name suggests, practical legal training is not theoretical like law school. Law school teaches you the law, but PLT teaches you how it all actually works when you’re a lawyer trying to assist a client.
Most of my PLT has been completed online, which involves a great deal of self-discipline, particularly as I’ve also been working full-time. Every week I have online units of work to get through and activities to submit for feedback. The activities have been so different to what’s required at law school, which is great – no research essays in sight!
You are basically put in the position of a junior lawyer and given instructions from a partner on what you need to do. For example, I get a client file to work on and have to draft letters of advice, statements of claim and affidavits. There are still exams, but I have found them to be different to uni exams; again they are very practical as they are not so much about applying the law to the hypothetical facts you are given.
One of the most valuable experiences during PLT has been client interviewing, because it’s something you don’t get taught how to do in law school and it’s both really interesting and challenging to have an individual tell you their story and try to figure out how you are going to help them.
Funnily enough, even though I was terrified at the prospect of having to appear in a court hearing, it ended up being a highlight of my practical legal training. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and I really enjoyed the experience.
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