Kids and Kilometres

In order to be admitted to practice as a lawyer in NSW you need two things:

  1. Law degree or equivalent; and
  2. Successful completion of a practical legal training (PLT) program.

I am completing my PLT program at the College of Law, just one of many providers around Australia.

As part of the program every student is required to complete the work experience component. This comprises either 75 days’ work experience, or 25 days + 5 activities and a 1-day workshop. The work experience must be completed under the supervision of an experienced legal practitioner.

If you were one of the lucky ones to secure a clerkship with one of the big law firms, as well as (generally) the firm paying the $8,000 fees of the PLT program, the clerkship generally satisfies the work experience requirements.

If, on the other hand, you’re like me and didn’t secure a clerkship then you are one of an increasing number of law graduates competing for a limited number of PLT positions! The College assists somewhat by providing a Jobs Noticeboard where students can check for available work experience (and other legal) positions. Many of these increasingly require students with foreign language skills, primarily Mandarin or Cantonese. Many more require you to commit a minimum of three days per week, or in some cases full-time for three months (unpaid!).

With no such language skills, being older than your average law grad (29!), having a full-time job and a mortgage that I have to pay, I did find the process of finding work experience a challenge I have to say. I applied for a number of clerkships through cvmail and, when that didn’t pan out, directly to a number of firms and community legal centres. All in all I probably applied for 30 different positions. Each application is tailored to the specific organisation and often takes a considerable amount of time. It is disheartening that less than 50% even bother responding to your application (if only to let you know you were unsuccessful).

I thought the fact that I have extensive I.T. and financial services experience would help set me apart from the masses, but they might not even get to that part of my CV to be honest! I imagine many places cull purely based on academic records. I’m not sure how I stack up in that department, but I would have thought my results weren’t too shabby:

There is light at the end of the tunnel though, as I recently landed a part-time position (1 day per week) at the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre. The Centre, to use their own words, is “dedicated to addressing human rights issues for children and young people in Australia through legal change”. The Centre only has a handful of full-time staff and relies both on limited funding from the Government and the assistance of volunteers to operate. They are great at utilising modern technology to communicate with young people – check out the Lawstuff website and the recently created ‘prezi’s‘ (interactive presentations). Both these resources which the Centre developed present a large amount of legal jargon in a simple, easy to understand way.

I do have to thank my current employer, which has provided me the flexibility to take 1 day off each week using annual leave (for at least the next 25 weeks) in order to satisfy the work experience component of my PLT.

In other news…

After signing up for the 3 peaks challenge again I went out on Saturday and rode 150km to see how the legs would cope and, apart from a sore bum and some tenderness the day afterward, I felt alright! It was the first time I had ridden more than 100km in a single ride since February! I rode up from the Sydney CBD to Bobbin Head, on to Berowra Waters, over to Galston Gorge and then back again – the so-called ‘3 gorges ride‘ (or 6 gorges if you turn around and come back instead of going down the Pacific Highway!). It’s a good test of the legs not only for the distance covered but also because of the climbing – about 2,300 vertical metres (compared to 3,800 for the 3 peaks). The elevation profile for the 6 gorges looks like this:

Total ride time including a tasty bacon & egg roll was just over 6 hours. Complete data here.

How much training will you need to do if you want to finish the 3 peaks in a respectable time? Bicycle Victoria has a 12-week training program which is great if you have perfect weather and no other commitments, but realistically in the final 12 weeks I think you should be looking to ride 200-300km each week (including one 100km+ ride). You should have done at least one 200km+ ride in the final 2-3 weeks. If you want to be competitive I think the above would need to be 300-500km each week (including one 150km+ ride) and 2-3 200km+ rides in the final three weeks (obviously tapering down in the final week).

Nutrition plays a huge part in endurance cycling and over the next couple of months I’ll share what works for me in the hope that it might assist some of you attempting the 3 peaks for the first time!

If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend joining your local cycling club as they generally organise many training rides each week that you are free to tag along to, and doing a couple of these greatly increases your base kilometres in the legs, gives you an opportunity to get out and have a chat with like minded people, and you feel a lot safer on the road when cycling in a group!

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