In Australia, most law students don’t article. Instead, they complete practical legal training (PLT), an Law Practice Program-style program that, like the one being introduced in Ontario, combines coursework and co-op placements.
While each Australian state has a different PLT program, the one recently introduced in Victoria (where Melbourne is located) sheds light on why the LPP might be good for Ontario — and could even replace the articling system.
After discovering that some students spent their entire articling year doing menial administrative tasks, in 2008 the Law Institute of Victoria decided the licensing process needed more supervision.
Along with the PLT option, they also replaced articling with supervised workplace training (SWT) — a 12-month program that puts more rigorous requirements on firms than articling. For example, every firm that participates in SWT rather than PLT must train students in civil, commercial and property law — the mandatory practice areas covered in PLT coursework — regardless of the firm’s specialty. As a result, most firms that had articling students six years ago did not make the switch to SWT. Today, PLT work placements are the norm.
Ultimately, Victoria changed its licensing system — not to deal with an articling shortage, but because it decided unregulated articling isn’t the best way to train lawyers.
For everything you need to know about Ontario’s Law Practice Program, read our licensing scorecard.