Your fees at work: Professional Legal Training Course

Professional Legal Training Course

The Law Society regularly highlights how annual practice fees are spent so that lawyers are aware of services to which they are entitled as well as programs that benefit from Law Society funding.

In this issue, we feature members’ support for the Professional Legal Training Course, or PLTC.

The Law Society’s PLTC has earned international recognition and has served as a model for bar admission programs all over the world. Instructors are all lawyers with a wealth of knowledge and practice experience. The 10-week course focuses on the development of skills, including advocacy, writing, interviewing, drafting, legal research, dispute resolution and problem-solving. Students complete numerous practical assignments on which they receive detailed feedback, and they are tested on four skills assessments.

PLTC also provides students with needed information on legal procedure, firm management and professional responsibility. Students are tested on this knowledge in two written exams.

The skills and knowledge the students acquire at PLTC are supplemented in their articles and on the job after their call, ensuring new lawyers are better prepared for the realities of legal practice.

Students, or their articling firms, pay a reasonable, but below-cost fee, to take PLTC; the Law Foundation of BC contributes 15% of the annual cost, and the remaining amount is subsidized by BC lawyers through the annual practice fee. Ensuring new lawyers have the skills required to practise law is critical to their initial and ongoing success and to the reputation of lawyers in general.

One of the highlights of PLTC is the mock civil trial, which allows students to prepare and act as counsel for a full trial in Supreme Court. Practising BC trial lawyers volunteer to sit as judges and give the students feedback. Other assignments have students analyzing legal problems, writing opinions, drafting contracts from scratch and interviewing new clients.

Student feedback on the program is collected after each session. In the words of one recent student, typical of the comments gathered, “This course does a fantastic job of providing practical skills useful to the early stages of one’s practice that are not taught in law school. The materials are extremely well written and comprehensive. All of the assignments and assessments are very helpful, and it helps to practise these skills.” (July 2012)