What is The piddington
justice project?

The Piddington Justice Project (PJP) was born out of recognition of two issues in the law - community legal centres (CLCs) face a funding crisis and need new sources of revenue and law graduates face increasingly poor job prospects and need new pathways to employment.

 
 

a pathway for law graduates

The PJP works to remedy these by placing new law graduates in participating CLCs to help them reach their practical legal training requirements (PLT) for admission to the profession.

The cost of the PJP graduate program is competitive with other PLT courses. Each graduate is guaranteed a work experience placement at a CLC. Some lectures will be provided by judges, silks and senior practitioners, and graduates would have access to a support network throughout the year.


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Giving back to community legal centres in need

Proceeds from the graduate course are contributed to the CLCs which offer work placements.

In conjunction with its graduate course, the Project runs 10 CPD seminars per year for members of the profession. These provide opportunities for graduates to meet practitioners, and provide revenue to fund the administration of the project. Learn more about our seminars and events here.


Outcomes from PJP

Law graduates experience an excellent PLT course, with meaningful work experience, a simplified and centralised application process and opportunities to meet with and learn from senior practitioners and legal experts.

CLCs gain access to law graduates and the supervision of which is supported by Piddington. CLCs also have a new source of revenue, and the Project is a reduction in the administration of training new staff, allowing them to focus on their core business.The project generates more than 2000 hours of pro bono legal service. This could mean providing legal advice and representation to 500 disadvantaged people who might otherwise be turned away.

Improving access to Justice also improves the administration of Justice. PWC has conservatively estimated that every dollar spent on legal aid generates a return of $1.60-$2.25. The National Association of CLCs estimated that the return on investment is $18.

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FAQ

What is Piddington’s PLT Course

From 2016 - 2018, Piddington has run a graduate program in association with ANU. In September 2018, Piddington was approved as a standalone PLT Provider. We are delighted to be running our first graduate cohort, commencing in January 2019.

Why should I choose Piddington PLT?

Our course was designed to be the best way for graduates to get the skills they need to be good lawyers (and get good jobs).

  • We think it is the best because:

  • You get lectures from (and access to) some of the most senior Judges and practitioners in WA during our intensives;

  • You get great hands on experience with some of the best lawyers in WA;

  • You get access to our Masterclass series on the first Friday of every month with many practitioners (and a few job offers have started at those events); and

  • Perhaps most importantly, you become part of a strong cohort of like-minded law grads, who can be a support for the duration of your careers.

All PLT courses train and assess graduates over the same national syllabus. Ours is the only course which integrates course work with work placements, to deliver real practical training and reduce “busy work”.

What is the Piddington Justice Project?

The PJP is Piddington’s project to connect law graduates with Community Legal Centres. The law graduates get the training they needed to get admitted, and some excellent experience. The Community Legal Centres get enthusiastic and bring graduates volunteering for 80 day placements.

The CLCs provide the training and assessment for some of the essential core graduate skills, and receive a modest funding contribution in partial recognition of this training.

Who are your partner CLCs?

The Humanitarian Group, Tenancy WA, Consumer Credit Law Service, Aboriginal Legal Service, Women’s Law Centre, Midlas, Mental Health Law Centre, Fremantle CLC. We are always seeking new CLCs to work with too, particularly regional ones – where you can often get even higher level experience and opportunities.

How does it work?

You apply to us, we try to match you with a relevant CLC. You can only join our program if one of the CLCs accepts you. (And if your first preference doesn’t accept you, we try to find you another one.)

What are the Key Dates for 2019?

Second Round Application Period: Open now and until 31 November 2018

January Intensive and “Meet the Grads”: 14 – 19 January 2019

February Admin Law Masterclass: 1 February 2019

March Trust and Office Accounting Masterclass: 1 March 2019

April Ethics Masterclass: 5 April 2019

May Litigation Masterclass: 3 May 2019

(Optional) June Bali Conference: 1-3 June 2019

July Criminal Law and Advocacy Intensive: 15-19 July 2019

August Commercial Law Masterclass: 2 August 2019

September Property Masterclass: 6 September 2019

October Mediation Masterclass: 4 October 2019

Graduation and Admission Date: 1 November 2019

Note: these are indicative and subject to change.

Why does it take until November to get admitted?

There are a few reasons for this.

Fundamentally – we think it takes some time to transition from being a university student to being a lawyer and Officer of the Court. All PLT courses involve the equivalent of at least 525 hours of programmed training. We think it is best to spread this out over a longer time frame, to allow you to engage and reflect on the materially.

There’s a pragmatic reason too. There are some jobs you can no longer apply for once you are an admitted practitioner, including some offices’ graduate programs, and clerking roles in barristers’ chambers (among others). We recommend you spend the first half of your year applying for those roles. Come June, you can start applying for admitted solicitor roles, and provide your scheduled admission date. By June, you will also have demonstrated some real on the job graduate experience, and will be more competitive when applying for those roles.

We do think that getting admitted in the year after you graduate is a good thing. But in 12 months’ time, the difference between a June admission and a November admission will not mean much (and in a few years’ time, it becomes irrelevant).

Do I have to volunteer with a particular CLC?

Nope. You can let us know your preference(s), but it’s always your choice whether or not to accept a placement offer.

Do I need to volunteer full-time?

Nope. We’re flexible (although some CLCs do prefer full timers).

Do I need to start my placement in January?

Nope. In some circumstances, it would even be possible to start a placement before January. Please indicate this when you enquire about the Project.

Do I need to be at the intensive in January?

We would encourage it, but again, we’re flexible. Joining the January intensive means you meet the rest of the cohort from day one. People who attend the first intensive generally get the most out of the program.

When is the intensive?

14 – 19 January 2019.

Do I have to complete all 80 days of the placement?

We’d like you to. The CLCs we work with really do invest a lot of time and effort into the training they offer. Generally, the longer you stay, the better you get and the more interesting the work you get. They’d like you to stay for the 80 days, and we’d like that too. But ultimately, a principle objective of the project is getting you into paid employment.

If you get an early job offer, of course you can leave the placement with our blessing. But it is best if you give the CLC lots of notice and keep them in the loop of where you are applying. There’s no need to be secretive about your desire to want a job – we, and they, understand!

Giving the CLC lots of notice means they might be able to get another graduate to come in earlier. That reduces any disruption to their service to their vulnerable clients. We ask all graduates to give at least two weeks notice before leaving a placement.

What if a problem comes up in my placement?

Please alert Nicholas van Hattem, Project Director, as early as possible. He’s there to try to resolve any issues that arise between grads and CLCs. Often there’s been a mismatch in understanding. Ultimately, we work on a mutual walk away policy. You can always walk away. At the same time, CLCs can terminate your placement if you are not following instructions or showing sufficient interest and commitment.

What if I get a paid job before I start my placement?

Get in touch with us! We are working with some offices to apply to the Legal Practice Board for some graduates to complete their placements in paid roles. It will be necessary to confirm who will be providing your training, and that your employment conditions exceed the minimum requirements of the relevant award. (Piddington can not facilitate any unpaid work placements in offices that charge clients fees for legal work).

How much does it cost?

Our PLT course costs $7800. The good news is that this is the least expensive PLT course in Australia. The bad news is that our course has not yet been approved for FEE HELP.

It is possible to pay the tuition fee as a lump sum, or in quarterly instalments or fortnightly direct debits.

We are also working with some organisations and philanthropists to provide some full and partial scholarships.

We are keen to ensure that no one misses out on our program for financial reasons. Please get in touch with us if you would like to discuss payment options.

What’s the future of the PJP?

We’ve got some big plans, but we can’t quite reveal them just yet. Be sure to like us on Facebook for all the latest information.

Interested in PJP 2019?

We're looking for graduates to join the 2019 cohort of our Justice Project.