VOLUME
5:1
JUNE 2018
1-278
  • CREATING A GOLD STANDARD FOR PRACTICAL LEGAL TRAINING IN COMMON LAW COUNTRIES

    Jack Burke* and Hugh Zillmann**
Abstract

Some form of discrete, mandatory, pre-admission, practical legal training (PLT) delivered by educational providers has been an essential element in a number of common law countries including England and Wales, Hong Kong and NSW in Australia, for around the last 40–50 years. However, it is almost certain that from September 2020, completion of a PLT component will no longer be compulsory in order to become a solicitor in England and Wales, and it will be replaced by a requirement to pass a centralised exam testing various legal skills. Based on the experience of the United States, this seismic change from established practice should be viewed by other common law jurisdictions such as Hong Kong (which is contemplating reform in this area) with caution.

Keywords
professional legal training; summative and formative assessment; legal profession; disruptions to legal practice; recent changes to practical legal training in the United States; proposals to change professional legal training in England and Wales; proposals to change professional legal training in Hong Kong; lessons for practical legal training in other common law jurisdictions
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Introduction

Some form of discrete, mandatory, pre-admission, practical legal training (PLT) delivered by educational providers has been an essential element in a number of common law countries including England and Wales, Hong Kong and NSW in Australia, for around the last 40–50 years. However, it is almost certain that from September 2020, completion of a PLT component will no longer be compulsory in order to become a solicitor in England and Wales, and it will be replaced by a requirement to pass a centralised exam testing various legal skills. Based on the experience of the United States, this seismic change from established practice should be viewed by other common law jurisdictions such as Hong Kong (which is contemplating reform in this area) with caution.