New Article: Computer-aided qualitative data analysis of social media … in legaled

RALT_COVER_50-01.inddComputer-aided qualitative data analysis of social media for teachers and students in legal education

I am grateful that my article was included in a special edition of The Law Teacher, edited by Professor Paul Maharg.

The article addresses a new field for legal education researchers. It describes and discusses emergent methods for computer-aided qualitative data analysis of social media in legal education. You find the article here.

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#ALTA2015 Call for Conference Papers

alta2015A reminder that 1 May 2015 is the deadline for submission of abstracts for the Australasian Law Teachers Association annual conference.

You can find a conference flyer and abstract submission form here. The conference theme is “Access to Justice and Legal Education”.

La Trobe University Law School will host the conference at the City Campus, Melbourne from Thursday 16 July to Saturday 18 July 2015.

 

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New Role for Kristoffer Greaves starts in June 2015

Deakin2EFPIThings have been a bit quiet on this blog over the last few months while I worked through the final phase of my PhD candidature. Now I have two items of news regarding my research and a new professional role.

I completed and submitted my PhD thesis for examination on 31 March 2015. Examination usually takes some months and often involves amendments to the thesis. Followers of this blog might recall my research investigated Australian practical legal training practitioners’ engagements with scholarship of teaching and learning. The study produced a number of interesting findings that I hope to share, subject to the thesis passing examination.

My other news concerns a new professional role starting in June 2015. Earlier this week I accepted a position as Lecturer in Professional Education at Charles Sturt University’s Education for Practice Institute in Sydney (EFPI). This represents an advance for my work in the theory and practice of professional education and training. It is an opportunity to work with internationally recognised leaders, including Professor Joy Higgs and Associate Professor Franziska Trede, in the areas of professional education, practice-based education, and workplace-based learning, .

What does this mean for PleagleTrainer Blog? I will continue to study and write about teaching and learning in professional legal education and practical legal training. Naturally, the blog will begin to include insights gleaned during my new role at EFPI, and I look forward to sharing those with you in future.

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Storified Tweets from #altlaw15

altlaw15Being in the submission phase of my PhD candidature, I was sorry to miss the Association of Law Teachers 50th Annual Conference in Cardiff, Wales held during 29-31 March 2015.

I was able to vicariously enjoy the conference via Twitter – you can view a Storified version  of the tweets as a slide show below:

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Law Institute of Victoria seeks members’ views re LACC review of academic requirements

I have previously posted information about the Australian Law Admissions Consultative Committee review of Academic Requirements. The deadline for submissions to the LACC is 31 March 2015.

The Law Institute of Victoria is seeking views from its members – from the LIV ‘Law In Brief’ circular:

“Law Admissions Consultative Committee: We need your views
The LIV is seeking the views of members on the LACC review, which is being conducted at the request of the Council of Chief Justices. Specifically we would like your views on three broad questions; Does the Priestley 11 require changing? What are employers’ views on the skills graduates obtain at law school – what is working and what is missing? What are the views of law graduates and young lawyers? Send your views to Andrew Tabone at atabone@liv.asn.au by 19 March to enable us to lodge a submission by the deadline of 31 March.”

The LACC has listed copies of submissions already received here.

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Re-Imagining Practical Legal Training Practitioners

jalta2014The Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association has published my article today: ‘Re-Imagining Practical Legal Training Practitioners – Soldiers for ‘Vocationalism’, or Double Agents?’ (2014) 7(1/2) Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association 101.

You can click on the picture above to download the article.

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SoTL, PLT, and the paramount obligation proposition

LawTeacher2015The good people at The Law Teacher have published my article about some insights I gleaned from interviews with PLT practitioners. The Law Teacher is an international legal education journal well worth a subscription. Click here to find an online version of my article, Kristoffer Greaves (2015): Is scholarship of teaching and learning in practical legal training a professional responsibility?, The Law Teacher, DOI: 10.1080/03069400.2014.991203. This article is paywalled, but hopefully you can get access to it via your institution’s library.

In précis, during interviews with Australian PLT practitioners in mid-2013 I used a question about lawyers’ paramount obligations to the court to provoke discussion about institutional and extra-institutional forces affecting scholarship of teaching and learning in institutional PLT. The article is a necessarily brief analysis of interviewees’ responses to the question. The interviews form part of the data collected for  my PhD thesis, which I hope to submit for examination around the end of March this year.

 

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Access to Justice Arrangements Final Report – Quick Look re PLT

access-justice-volume1The Productivity Commission’s final inquiry report regarding Access to Justice Arrangements (5 September 2014) was released on 4 December 2014. You can download the report here.

I have previously discussed the draft report and some submissions to the inquiry here.

I have quickly scanned the report for what it states about practical legal training. Firstly, Recommendation 7.1 (underlining added):

RECOMMENDATION 7.1 The Law, Crime and Community Safety Council, in consultation with universities and the professions, should conduct a systemic review of the current status of the three stages 
of legal education (university, practical legal training and continuing professional development). The review should commence in 2015 and consider the: 


  • appropriate role of, and overall balance between, each of the three stages of legal education and training 

  • ongoing need for each of the core areas of knowledge in law degrees, as currently specified in the 11 Academic Requirements for Admission, and their relevance to legal practice 

  • best way to incorporate the full range of legal dispute resolution options, including non-adversarial and non-court options, and the ability 
appropriate resolution option to the dispute type and characteristics into one (or more) of the stages of legal education 

  • relative merits of increased clinical legal education at the university or practical 
training stages of education
  • regulatory oversight 
for each stage, including the nature of tasks that could 
appropriately be conducted by individuals who have completed each stage of education, and any potential to consolidate roles in regulating admission, practising certificates and continuing professional development. Consideration should be given to the Western Australian and Victorian models in this regard. 


The Law, Crime and Community Safety Council should consider the recommendations of the review in time to enable implementation of outcomes by the commencement of the 2017 academic year.

The first dot point is very interesting – Noel Jackling cites the Trew Report (1966), the Freadman Report (1969), the McDowell Report (1971), the Ormrod Report (1971) and the Victorian Joint Working Party Report (1985) as all adopting a ‘compartmentalised’ model, ‘in which the stages [of legal education] follow each other’.  A review of the three-stage model would have implications for those who have treated the three compartments as watertight in the past. I believe such a review is overdue.

Increased clinical legal education during the academic or PLT stage could have challenging consequences. I support clinical legal education for teaching and learning in law; however there are substantial administrative and financial factors associated with it. As the report observes at p. 249:

Although it has benefits, clinical legal education is very intensive in terms of staff resources, and is therefore relatively expensive when compared with more traditional university-based methods for teaching law.

I would not like to see an  approach to new requirements that might inhibit diversity, equity, and parity of access to legal education.

Regulatory oversight is also an interesting issue in PLT – I have received  feedback from PLT practitioners about  regulators’ resistance to change and innovation in teaching and learning theory and practices in PLT.

The recommendation contemplates the review of the three-stage model commencing next year and concluding before the 2017 academic year – so hold on to your hats – this will be an exciting ride!

Volume 1, p. 242 of the report includes a brief summary of ‘practical legal training and admission’.  Curiously, the report omits mention of one of the longest-serving PLT providers, the Leo Cussen Institute, when stating PLT courses ‘are offered online and throughout the country by universities, the College of Law and other select training bodies’.

Volume 1, p. 248 – the report states ‘Clinical legal education can provide more practical training’ but observes it should not just be an ‘add-on’ to the academic degree, later adding at p. 249 (underlining added):

Given the increasingly generalist role of the undergraduate law degree, a focus on elements that are specific to practising in the legal profession (as distinct from corporate or government work) could be misplaced. However, in postgraduate study (such as JDs or PLT), the use of clinical legal education to concurrently develop knowledge and skills may prove a valuable means to expedite courses while still maintaining quality.

It is not clear on first reading whether the Commission considered the work experience component of PLT. If the intention is to supplement the work experience component with clinical legal education, this may or may not solve the current problem of the shortage of work experience placements, provided the admission boards accept clinical legal education undertaken during PLT as part of the pre-admission work experience requirements. The Commission refers to the Newcastle University’s integrated program of academic, clinical legal education, and PLT, seemingly taking this as a model for what might be done. My understanding, however, is that graduates from integrated programs face difficulty in having the PLT qualification accepted for admission in some jurisdictions.

Vol 1, p. 252 – in discussing a ‘balancing’ of the three stages of legal education and training, the Commission states (underlining added):

Simply adding new elements to legal education (ADR, clinical legal education) risks driving up the cost and duration of education. Instead, the role of each of these stages in training professional lawyers should be examined. Such elements need to be incorporated or ‘embedded’ into the broader learning process. Given the tendency towards more ‘generalist’ undergraduate law degrees a tiered approach to education might be appropriate, with strengthened postgraduate or practical legal training for those who intend to practice.

This seems to contemplate a more integrated approach, but with qualifications structured for practitioners and non-practitioners. An integrated approach could have modules mandated for the practitioner stream, and to which non-practitioners could later return if they chose to qualify for practice. There might be some (not insurmountable) challenges for instructional design if an integrated approach is adopted. Consider, for example, a pervasive approach to teaching subjects such as professional responsibility and legal ethics across the curriculum – instructional designers would need to track whether learning concepts are adequately covered in both practitioner and non-practitioner streams.

So that’s a quick look – I hope to complete a more detailed examination of the report early next year, with a comparison between the final report and the submissions considered regarding PLT.


 

Noel Jackling, ‘Academic and Practical Legal Education: Where Next’ (1986) 4 Journal of Professional Legal Education 1.

Productivity Commission, ‘Access to Justice Arrangements – Productivity Commission Inquiry Report’ (Productivity Commission, 2014).

The Committee on Legal Education, ‘Report Of The Committee On Legal Education (“The Ormrod Report”)’ (The Committee on Legal Education, 1971).

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