IPLS teaching approach
IPLS provides competency-based skills training which does not focus on the sequential and procedural steps of carrying out transactions, but provides an opportunity for you to practice the skills by applying them to a range of transactions representative of the work you will be doing. Skills are enduring, whereas transactions are finite and ever changing.
The learning of skills is completely different from university learning. Trainees are not asked to write about the subject matter of their study but instead, charged with performing a skill in demonstration of competence in both understanding and ‘ability to do’.
Many of the skills trainees learn on the PLSC are based on life-skills and commonsense – writing, asking questions, advancing an argument based on certain types of reasoning – but, on the PLSC, trainees learn to perform these skills in a new and specialised way, to ensure they are able to accomplish certain outcomes.
The techniques required to learn skills of this nature are different from those required of academic study. To learn these new skills, one often must start from a position of not recognising anything deficient with one’s current practice and move to understanding the goals and rationales for a new approach and the techniques required to be employed to achieve those outcomes.
Then, to demonstrate competence, one must attempt the task, with new insight and using those new techniques. The process of developing competence in performance generally requires several cycles of attempt, feedback from knowledgeable expert, reflection and re-attempt.
Learn by doing
This is quite a different type of learning from academic learning undertaken at university and trainees can expect the experience to feel and be different. During the course, trainees will be equipped with the actual skills necessary for legal practice, rather than a mere knowledge of those skills; that is, they learn how to do (by practising doing), as well as what to do.
For example, rather than being taught about interviewing techniques and assessed on their knowledge of the interviewing process, trainees are coached in practising interviewing techniques and are assessed on their conduct in an interview.
Similarly, rather than being asked to outline the components of a defended hearing in a criminal matter, trainees will first be coached and then assessed, on their conduct in a defended hearing – involving the delivery of an opening address, conduct of examination-in-chief and cross-examination and the delivery of a closing address.