The Ultimate College of Law Practical Legal Training review: 2021

Finding specific information and reviews on the College of Law’s Practical Legal Training (PLT) programme can be difficult. This review of the College of Law PLT  programme has been created as an all-encompassing guide, to give you all the information you need to decide if this is the right programme for you. This review is based on real-life experience going through the College of Law Practical Legal Training programme. 

The Basics

If you read the article on how to qualify as a lawyer in Australia, you will know that after acquiring a Bachelor of Laws or equivalent in Australia, you will then need to complete Practical Legal Training (PLT). There are several PLT providers in Australia, with the College of Law being one of them. 

One of the College of Law’s drawcards is that it is quite flexible in that there are several start dates in the different states and territories throughout the year. Secondly, the College of Law offers online-based learning. Usually, the College of Law PLT programme runs with an initial 5 days of face-to-face learning, followed by online learning for the rest of the course. 

As a response to covid19, PLT under the College of Law moved to run their courses completely online, with the 5 days of face-to-face learning being done over Zoom. This is a flexible and convenient option for students in different circumstances, including parents and carers, or those studying far from those face-to-face centres. For that reason, the 100% online course will hopefully remain an option post-covid.

When you complete the PLT programme, you will gain a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (GDLP). 

The application process

How and when to apply

You can pretty much apply to the college of law at any point after you complete your undergraduate degree. The College of Law requires your transcript (which can be the unofficial one at this point), to show that you have completed your degree. 

The College of Law PLT programme can be started early. After you have completed your Priestly 11 (core) law subjects, and have no more than two electives left to complete your degree, you can apply to the admitting authority in your state or territory to start your PLT early. 

You enrol through the College of Law website. You will attach documentation to that application, including your transcript, or letter from the admitting authority allowing you to start early. So any information that you deem relevant can be attached to the email. Once you submit the email, it is assessed, and then you get a confirmation of enrolment. 

Application: Practical Legal Training

Cost of PLT

PLT at the College of Law costs $9640, not including the work experience options, where you could pay an extra $2000 to undertake the additional 8-week work experience program (Clinical Experience Module). As an Australian citizen, you can pay for your PLT through FEE-Help. 

The cost of  PLT at the College of law is more expensive if you are not an Australian citizen, as is the case with most other institutions. You will be looking at $13,910 for the course. This has to be paid in full at the time of enrolment. The College of Law does not offer any flexibility with this. They do not have any instalment arrangements or any other payment plans. Even during Covid, they did not offer any relief, and their response was to undertake the PLT at a later stage when the full fee can be paid. This is not necessarily a unique position with PLT providers. 

Generally speaking, the cost of PLT and payment arrangements do not differ significantly across providers. Therefore, when you are comparing between providers to decide on which one to go with, it is advisable not to make the cost a strong criterion on which to base your decision. The difference is not that significant. 

Full-time or part-time PLT

One of the decisions you will have to make when you apply is whether you take the course on a full-time or part-time basis. The college of law recommends that you dedicate 30-35 hours a week to the course. 

However, with time management and a good balance of commitments, it is possible to commit to doing the full-time load with full-time work as well. The obvious advantage of studying full-time is that you are done much quicker, in 15 weeks, as opposed to the 30 weeks it takes to complete the PLT on a part-time basis. So if you can manage your time and do not have too many other commitments, you can definitely take on a full-time study load. 

You should be aware that while you are doing the coursework, only two days a week of work experience count towards your work experience days count towards your requisite work experience days, even if you are working more than two days.

Selecting your PLT electives

Another decision you will have to make at enrolment is to select the two electives you will take on as part of your PLT. Elective options are as follows:

Remember that the coursework in PLT is not like in university. So you are not going to learn about the subject itself, rather, you will learn about how to apply it in practice. Therefore, it is best not to select a subject because you want to learn about it from scratch, as was the case in your undergraduate degree. 

Rather, select a subject that you may have some foundational knowledge of, so that it is easier for you. For example, it is not the best idea to take on wills and estates as an elective if you do not have any prior knowledge of it at all. This is not to say it is impossible, it just means you will have to do some reading around the subject area to understand it a little more. Which means you will need to dedicate more time to it.

If you do change your mind, make sure you make that change before the census date, so that it does not cost you! 


The in-person week

After you have enrolled, the next stage will be the “in-person” week. You will not get that much information until about the week prior to the commencement of your course. You will get access to the Canvas platform on which the course is run. You will then get a schedule and other information about the course. 

The programme is split into 5 days. You will be on zoom with a requirement for cameras to be on for the duration of those days. The Zoom participants will be made up of classmates and your assigned lecturer, or an assigned college of law coordinator for the particular topic. There are different lessons and activities attached to each day. Here is what you can expect:

Day 1: Ethics and decision-making workshops. You find that the underpinning theme of the College of Law’s PLT programme is ethics and how to apply that to the decision making process in practice. This day will be an introduction to that. 

Day 2: Problem-solving, drafting and writing. There is also a well-being component, which is good as it highlights the importance of mental health in the legal profession.

Day 3 and 4: are all about advocacy and all its elements. It includes an opportunity to have a role in a “mock trial.” The structure will be determined by your lecturer. This is probably one of the highlights of the PLT if the court is exciting to you. You will get constructive feedback and also get an opportunity to learn from others. 

Day 5: this is the negotiation and dispute resolution day. This is a day that you can be exempted from if you have done a subject that is on the list that the College of Law gives you here.

The 5 days in-person part is also important because it gives you the chance to interact with your coursemates. There are some parts of the 5 days that involve group work, and you will get to work with different people each time. This is a good opportunity to foster relationships that could help you through the course, in terms of asking for clarity where you may not understand, potential partners for group projects throughout the course. 

The rest of the courswork (after the 5 days)

Assigned lecturer

You will be assigned a lecturer at the beginning of the course, who you will meet in the face-to-face section of the course. Your lecturer will be the main point of contact for the duration of the course. College of Law lecturers are people who have a good amount of experience and knowledge from practice, they are usually very approachable, friendly and helpful. Therefore, make use of them. Ask where you do not understand, ask for clarity when things are not clear- they will assist you. Email or a message through Canva is a good way to contact them.

Textbook/Practice Papers

Your readings for your coursework are in the form of “practice papers” which are posted in the relevant area in Canva. They are basically textbooks with information relevant to the particular activity in the subject you are doing. If you prefer a hard copy/ textbook version, then you can let your lecturer know in the face-to-face week. These will be posted to you, the cost of which is included in your course fees- so you will not have to pay extra. 

Subject Content

There are 5 compulsory subjects that you will have to do, and then 2 electives, which will get you to 7 subjects in total. The list of elective subjects you choose from is listed above, and the compulsory subjects are as follows:

You will do some of the subjects in a particular order, which you will find is very helpful because the subjects will build on each other. Each subject will be done in turn, that is, you will do one subject, complete it, then commence the next. The electives, which will be done last in the full-time course, are done simultaneously. This is probably the part of the course that I would say requires the most time management.

The format of the coursework is such that you will complete a few activities for each subject, where you answer questions and submit those questions. This can be in various forms, including drafting letters and documents, a video recording, file notes, group work etc. You are marked on each of these activities by your lecturer and then given feedback.

You will then book a time to do an oral assessment. It is based on the activities that you do over the duration of the subject. So the more effort you put into the activities, the more prepared you are for your oral assessment. Reading the feedback is also very key. You book in a time slot of an hour, then you will do a video call and complete the oral assessment at that allotted time. Your lecturer is one of the people who conduct the assessments, and they might take you for your oral assessment. But you may get any College of Law lecturer depending on the timeslot you selected. Though you do not know who your assessor is when you book. 

The oral assessment is what 100% of your mark is based on for each subject. The oral assessments are conversational in nature. The lecturers are encouraging, rather than interrogative. If you do your activities and read the feedback that you are given, you will be more than fine! These exams are much less stressful and intense than University ones

Once you complete the oral assessment, you move on to the next subject until you are done with the coursework. 

Work experience

The work experience component is one of the three elements you need to complete in order to get your GDLP. The rules on this differ from state to state, so it is a good idea to check the College of Law website for specific details for your state. But generally:

  • You have to complete 75 days of work experience in order to satisfy the work experience component of the College of Law PLT. 15 of those days (or 25 in WA) must be done during or after the completion of the coursework section.
  • The other 60 days can be completed up to two years prior to the course. So you can get credit for work experience completed while at university.
  • Make sure you complete the requisite paperwork for your work experience, and make sure that the work experience is approved by the College of Law.
  • There are several areas of law that are considered work experience, including paralegal work, government policy and planning legal work,or  inhouse legal departments for companies amongst other things. So definitely widen your horizons when searching for work experience opportunities.

Currently, you are able to take on remote work experience opportunities with the College of Law. There are some incredible opportunities to work with online-based law firms if that is something that interests you. It can be difficult to find a place to complete your work experience, and this is a viable option! Hopefully, the College of Law will leave this option available post-pandemic.

The third component: Continuing Professional Education

The third component of PLT is Continuing Professional Education is available in Canvas, it is self-paced and is the easiest component of the College of Law’s PLT. You can complete it as you go, alongside the coursework, or you can take a couple of days to complete it after you are done with the coursework. 

You will complete the following modules:

  • Legal tech and innovation: the past year in review
  • Applying technology to practice
  • Getting started with legal tech projects
  • Legal tech basics: Office 365
  • Cyber risk and security in legal practice
  • Foundational technologies: AI, Data and the Cloud
  • Communicating effectively
  • Developing a commercial mindset
  • Understanding financial information
  • Networking and personal brand

Once done, you will be prompted in Canvas to let the College of Law know, and they will make this component complete. You will receive a certificate of Legal Tech and Business Skills. 


When you have finished all three components, the College of Law will send you (through MyEquals), three things:

  • your GDLP certificate, 
  • a letter confirming your completion. You will need this to send to the admitting authority in your state or territory. 
  • Your transcript. 

At that point, you are done with your PLT and done with the college of law. I will have a post up about the next steps soon. So look out for that.

Miscellaneous information

Customer service – the College of Law has a good response time, both before and after you enrol. Emails are replied to within a day, with accurate information.

Overseas qualified lawyers: You need to get your overseas qualifications assessed. If, as part of that assessment you have to complete the  PLT (or components of it), then you must show that assessment when you apply to the college of law.

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