For almost 50 years, The Australian National University (ANU) School of Legal Practice (previously the ANU Legal Workshop) has been a pioneer in practical legal training (PLT) that has helped more than 10,000 graduates over the past 30 years realise their professional ambitions.
Its closure on 31 December 2021 marks the end of an era that began on 10 January 1972 when 18 students – 16 of whom were from ANU – enrolled in Australia’s inaugural PLT course.
Over subsequent decades, the School would be at the forefront of other innovations: it was a trailblazer of distance education in the PLT sector and led research into curriculum design and wellbeing for lawyers.
The School’s flagship qualification (known as the Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP) since 1992) replaced the articles of clerkship pathway that was previously the entry into the profession for generations of legal practitioners.
However, its proudest legacy is arguably modernising and equalising entry into the legal profession for law graduates historically marginalised.
“It (the GDLP) was an opportunity to not only have something more systematised and standardised, but to very much equalise the opportunity for those who could not otherwise access articles,” said Associate Professor Lynn Du Moulin, head of the ANU School of Practice.
Nowadays, the GDLP is a professional qualification required for admission to practise for Bachelor of Laws and Juris Doctor graduates nationwide, but the course owes its origins to the then ANU Faculty of Law.