#aplec2013 Day 2 Final Plenary

Exchange² in Practice: An interactive Session Exploring Current Issues

Moderator: Deborah Ankor

Flinders University Law School

Current issue topics sought from the floor, suggestions: the rise of the JD and implications for PLT; English language skills of PLT trainees; poor drafting skills – what can we do; are the competencies suitable for modern legal practice; unpaid work placements – what is PLT providers’ role.

We split up into groups around these topics – I participated in the drafting skills group. Plenty of anecdotal evidence that many PLT trainees’ writing and drafting skills need a lot of help. Interesting and constructive discussions in this largish group. I couldn’t capture everything said, but some themes: good writing and drafting needs lots of practice; challenging to provide enough practice within the time span of a PLT course; suggestions about individual and group work and formative assessment; instructional design to ensure skills practice pervades all parts of the course; drawing on existing literature around teaching and learning in writing and drafting skills; demonstrating varieties and forms of drafting by taking a single fact situation and re-telling it through emails, letters, pleadings, affidavits, agreements etc; the use of precedents as exemplars and ensuring the reason they are exemplars are explained (with opportunities to critique too); managing profession’s expectations of entry-level lawyers. It was clear there were many creative and thoughtful ideas about how to improve writing and drafting skills; it was suggested this be a focus for some presentations at next year’s APLEC conference.

I was really encouraged and inspired by the group discussion – the dynamic was respectful, focused on listening, with very few interruptions when someone was speaking – I know that some people dislike certain buzzwords, but for me this discussion modeled ‘collaborative reflection’ in a really practical way.

This was the last session of #aplec2013. The final address provided some updates regarding the recent review of the competency standards and some future developments – I will pick these up at a later date.

On the whole, a really successful conference, congratulations to the organisers from Flinders University and the Law Society of South Australia/Adelaide Law School.