Law Society of New South Wales launches online program for future lawyers

The Law Society of New South Wales has launched an online mentoring program for over 650 high school students across the state in the wake of ongoing social distancing requirements. The Future Lawyers programme is running over 6 weeks with different topics and lectures being given to students on topics such as an Introduction to Australian Legal Systems, Advocacy, Law Reform, Policy and Ethics, as well as a mock trial. The classes are delivered by practising solicitors, giving students a chance to interact with those in practice gaining first-hand knowledge about the sector.

President of the Law Society of NSW, Richard Harvey, said: “The Future Lawyers Programme provides the year 10 and 11 students with an opportunity to learn from experienced and knowledgeable solicitors within the comfort of their own home. When it became clear that Law Society’s face-to-face Mock Law Programmes would be impacted by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions we moved quickly to create a new online format for high school students. During these uncertain times, it is important to ensure we adapt to our current environment and create new opportunities for students considering a career in the law.”

See the full details of the programme.

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Reform of Legal Education in Belarus and the United Kingdom

Abstract

Reforms in legal education are taking place in almost all countries. Each system has its own reasons for improving the quality of legal education, though the employment of young lawyers after graduation proves a common problem.

The Concept for the Development of Legal Education in the Republic of Belarus through to 2025, adopted by the Ministry of Education in 2017, partly addresses the problems faced by the contemporary Belarusian legal community. These problems include a lack of practice-oriented courses for students and the need to improve the professional training of teachers.

The main problems facing the modern Belarusian legal education appear to include the excessive teaching load of academics, the lack of practical skills development, bureaucratic mechanisms for attracting foreign funding, insufficient funding for training teachers abroad, weak foreign language skills, and the lack of new education and academic technologies, including access to online databases and virtual learning environments.

Belarus ranks 52nd in the Human Development Index of 188 countries in the UN Development Program, which is one of the highest positions among the countries of eastern Europe. This indicates that Belarus is competitive in the field of education generally. In order to put in place legal education reforms, a wide range of professionals should be involved, as well as more active cooperation with non-governmental educational institutions and universities abroad. This will allow the sharing of best practices in the area of legal education.

Citation
Kryvoi, Yarik and Maroz, Raman, Reform of Legal Education in Belarus and the United Kingdom (March 19, 2018). Yarik Kryvoi, Raman Maroz, Reform of legal education in Belarus and the United Kingdom (Ostrogorski Centre, 2018).

Available from the SSRN site.

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Learning from Law Professors: An Analysis of What the Best Law Teachers Do

Abstract

This is a review of the book What the Best Law Teachers Do. While it focuses on law school teachers, nearly all of the book is applicable to teaching undergraduate business law classes. The book is the result of extensive interviews with teachers and students that identify the top traits and practices of twenty-six of the country’s top law school teachers. This review is divided into praise for and mild criticism of the book. I occasionally mention my personal experience with the book’s topics as pertaining to the business law classroom. The review concludes with an alternative reading suggestion.

Citation
Conklin, Michael, Learning from Law Professors: An Analysis of What the Best Law Teachers Do (June 1, 2020).

Available from the SSRN site.

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BSB to use AI to carry out online testing

The Bar Standards Board has announced on the 12th May 2020, that the Bar Professional Training Course and Bar Transfer Test assessments, that were delayed from April to August, will be carried out online with the assistance of Pearson’s OnVUE secure global online proctoring solution, which will allow for remote invigilation. Allowing the exams to take place within this timeframe will then allow for students with pupillage offers to take these up in the Autumn, rather than causing further delays.

The BSB has said that the “OnVUE system uses a combination of artificial intelligence and live monitoring to ensure the exam is robustly guarded, deploying sophisticated security features such as face-matching technology, ID verification, session monitoring, browser lockdown and recordings.” However, some criticism has come about suggesting that the system may prejudice students with young children, as the system automatically ends the test if another person is detected in the presence of the examinee.

BSB director-general Mark Neale said: “Since the current health emergency began… students and transferring qualified lawyers have had to face considerable uncertainty, which we very much regret, and I am delighted that we can now deliver centralised assessments remotely in August with Pearson VUE’s state-of-the-art online proctoring system.”

For more information see the full article on the BSB site.

 

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LSB podcast on how education might adapt to technology

In its latest episode of the ‘Talking Tech’ podcast, the LSB interviews Dr Adam Wyner, Associate Professor of Law and Computer Science at Swansea University. The podcast focuses on how education and regulation might change to ensure legal professionals are better equipped to deal with and meet the challenges posed by a new tech-focused environment, as well as how these individuals can start to drive technological innovation.

Listen to the LSB podcast (42 minutes long)  and download the accompanying paper as a PDF.

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Program to offer Georgia Law students virtual internships with judges

Ana Maria Martinez, the head of the Georgia Latino Law Foundation, is organising a virtual judicial internship program for second-year law students who have had their summer associate internships cancelled.

The virtual internships with Georgia judges are open to all second-year students, at the state’s ABA-accredited law schools; and the deadline to apply is May 15. The program will last for five weeks and is unpaid, but will give students the experience of working in a judicial office.

Martinez, who is a staff attorney for DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez said: “It gives law students opportunities to have a substantive summer and feel like their hard work wasn’t wasted this year. It’s a way to expose them to new connections, how the court system works and perhaps a new mentor.”

Law students will be asked to commit to a minimum of 20 hours per week, which will be flexibly arranged around judges’ and attorneys’ schedules. Students will meet with judges or attorneys twice a week via Zoom.

See the full article on Law.com.

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Philippines Supreme Court lowers passing grade to include more “techy lawyers”

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has passed a resolution lowering the passing grade for the bar examination from 75% to 74%. The adjustment was made in light of ongoing difficulty caused to students by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as a desire to introduce younger lawyers with more technology skills into the profession.

The adjustment resulted in a pass rate of 27.36%, the pass rate would have been 23% pre-adjustment. This means that of the 7,685 students who took the exam almost 300 extra students passed, taking the total from 1,760 to 2,103.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that “the legal framework has morphed in such a way that techy lawyers are in demand. Laws governing electronic transactions and penalizing offences committed through cyberspace have been enacted, and the way our legal institutions operate has been modified to cope with and make use of computer-driven technologies,”

See the full article on the Rappler site.

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Law Society of Ontario to allow online examinations

The Law Society of Ontario has announced that they will allow their June Barrister and Solicitor exams, and their July Paralegal exams to take place online in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

CEO Diana Miles has said: “The Law Society is confident that the new online delivery model will continue to ensure entry-level competence which is in the public interest. This will also provide candidates with an opportunity to fulfil the requirements of the licensing process during this unprecedented crisis.”

For more information see the full article on the Law Society of Ontario site.

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Avatars, Acting and Imagination: Bringing New Techniques into the Legal Classroom

Abstract

This project is part of an ongoing effort to build the “360° lawyer,” a concept that I came up with to capture related strands of thought I have had while teaching students in my first-year legal writing classroom. “360°,” or “whole,” or “all the way around.” These felt like the right ways to describe someone who could see legal issues from multiple perspectives, but also had the quality to sustain oneself in the practice of law – the “w-holistic” lawyer.

The first endeavor was to think about ways that I could teach or inspire students at the particular moment in the spring semester where they had written their appellate briefs and were just about to present their oral arguments – in other words, in the liminal space between what students know and what they do not (yet) know.

Along with the traditional “moot-courtisms” and instructions, such as to make eye contact, and not to be rude or disrespectful to the judges or opposing counsel, I decided to try something new this year. I set aside one extra class period, after I had already taught my normal oral advocacy classes, in which I pulled together six tips to help my students navigate this space. I employed the help of one of my neighbors, a Shakespearean- trained actor who was currently, in her words, “playing a lawyer on t.v.” Together, she and I brought these tips to life for the students, and met them right in the space that they occupied that week. This article describes the concepts I created for that class, as well as other theater-based techniques that can be helpful for students to transition into oral advocates, and ultimately, into holistic lawyers.

In Part II of this article, I examine the scope of the existing legal academic research on theater techniques in the law, including those in the courtroom as well as the classroom. Although some of the pieces connect acting and lawyering, they leave room to explore the use of theater theory and application in the law classroom – including the legal writing classroom – in a deep and impactful way. Further, even though the literature on oral advocacy is richly developed, it also leaves openings to inspire students while teaching them to be advocates. I discuss why theater techniques can help students feel more prepared for the oral argument process, including addressing concerns about whether such techniques can bring through an authentic perspective.

In Part III, I describe the six techniques, some from my own experience, and others from formalized theater training, which I brought to my spring persuasive writing and oral advocacy course, and how we presented them to the students. The six tips are to: 1) find an “avatar,” which is the core concept of this paper, and one I developed to help students feel more steady when they first think about presenting themselves; 2) be prepared, which requires them to review the material facts and law just as an actor would review a script; 3) know the “heart” of the story, which is common in both a student’s theory of the case and an actor’s understanding of her character’s motivations; 4) think in a 360° way, in which I ask students to “recognize the round,” and think from the other side’s perspective, just as actors are taught to think about other character’s motivations; 5) understand the power of projection (the voice); and, finally, 6) understand the power of body language (the stance).

Finally, I conclude with my thoughts on the class and the process, and discuss ways in which these techniques – unbundled or bundled—might be useful in other law teaching moments.

Citation
Kanwar, Joy, Avatars, Acting and Imagination: Bringing New Techniques into the Legal Classroom (December 31, 2018). Journal of the Legal Profession, Vol. 43, No. 1, 2018.

Available from the SSRN site.

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Current Day Realities of Legal Education in Nigeria: Challenges, Prospects and Productive Way Forward

Abstract

“We need to raise the standard of legal education in Nigeria. The standard is too poor and too weak, and we see it in the quality of lawyers that come to our chambers”.

The above were the words of the former chair of the NBA while describing the pitiable state of legal education in Nigeria which is clearly on its death throes. It is saddening that the framework for legal education in the country which has served the country for over five decades appears to be gasping for its last breath. The challenges bedeviling legal education in Nigeria, resulting in the low quality we now have, are multifarious. However, these challenges are not without practical solutions. Thus, against the foregoing backdrop, this paper examines the current day reality of the state of legal education in Nigeria; prospects, challenges and productive way forward for legal education in the country.

Citation
Disu, Damilare, Current Day Realities of Legal Education in Nigeria: Challenges, Prospects and Productive Way Forward (February 9, 2020).

Available from the SSRN

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