At the start of every Law graduate’s career we all consider the same thing at least once, and that is if we should attend the Practical Legal Training (PLT) course. This course is more commonly referred to as Law School.
Although the name changed, the course’s aim stayed mostly the same. The aim is to prepare CA’s for the admission exams.
The biggest question everyone’s asks is if they should attend the course or not? There is no simple answer to this, as it depends on various things that can influence your decision. So to answer the question we have to look at all the aspects of the course, the good, the bad and the ugly…
The information in this post are all from CA’s who attended the course and from further research I did before writing on the topic.
Legal Education and Development division of the Law Society of South Africa, better known as LEAD is the facilitator of the courses. LEAD’s main focus is to help prepare law graduates and candidate attorneys for the admission exams.
The main focus of the course is on the admission exams, but it also focuses on other practical legal aspects. The course last for normally 6 months and you can attend either day school or night school. Most CA’s opt for night school, as most of us already started working and attending the day course can then be difficult.
The first obstacle you will face when deciding to attend the PLT course will be the price. According the LEAD’s website the registration fee is around R14 500. For most students this is an impossible amount to come up with, especially if you still have student loans to pay.
I would encourage every potential PLT student to not let this be the only reason you do not attend the PLT’s. Although money is always an issue, there is always some sort of plan you can make.
The night school normally starts at 5pm and ends at 9pm, and you must attend it from Monday to Thursday for 6months. Many students will find it easy to attend the course as everyone is excited to finish their PVT quickly and become an admitted attorney.
Some students on the other hand find it difficult to attend school because of other obligations. For instance one student could not attend law school as the firm he works for has a lot of work in other cities and he is out of town for at least 2 days a week. The reason why this is an issue is that to get your certificate of completion at the end of the course you have to attend all the classes.
It is important to note that without 100% attendance the chances of receiving your certificate of completion are slim. Although everyone is human and certain things can keep you from getting to one class, which LEAD will understand, it can’t become a trend.
The PLT course is not a requirement for you to be admitted as an attorney. Whether you attend the course or not you will be allowed to be admitted as an attorney if you meet all the other requirements as setout by the LPC act.
There is however a course that is compulsory. Everyone must attend the Compulsory Practical Vocational Training (CPVT) course. It is divided into 2 modules. The first module lasts around 2 weeks and the second is 2 and a half weeks long. The 2 modules focuses on the 4 different exams you have to write. This course is a summary of the PLT course. You have to do one or the other, but it is not necessary to do both courses.
The PLT has the benefit that you are exempted from attending the CPVT.
One of the biggest benefit a student has after completing the PLT is that the student gets 1 year of their PVT contract. This allows you to be admitted as an attorney after only 1 year of doing your clerkship.
The other benefits include:
- You do not have to do the CPVT
- The admission exams will be easier to write
- It is an open space where you can ask the questions that you don’t feel free to ask at your firm
- The lecturers have more time to explain the content and students tend to understand some concepts better
Although you get 1 year off from your PVT, there are certain things that you will only learn by practicing them yourself. The 2 year PVT has the benefit, that you have more time to experience what the law is about and how to correctly practice it.
The other drawback is that most students complain that they have no time for themselves or their families. This might not be an issue for everyone but some people do like their time off…
It is clear that there is no straight forward answer. Each CA should weigh the pros and cons for themselves to find out if the PLT will benefit you or not.
There are some great benefits to attending the PLT’s. Depending on your personal situation you have to go and evaluate if this will benefit you or not.
Please feel free to leave your comments or other suggestions below. We are all in the same boat and the more help you can get the better.