Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan to launch new skills course with CPLED

A new skills course designed by the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) will be launched for articling clerks in Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. The course, known as The Practice Readiness Education Program or PREP is designed to equip students with the necessary practical skills to pursue a career in law in the future.

The PREP course is designed to run over nine months, with two intakes per year, and is broken down into four sections:

  • Foundation modules (5 months) – online modules providing a foundation in all CPLED competencies including Lawyer Skills, Practice Management and Professional Ethics and Character. (More detail on the foundation modules is available here)
  • Face-to-face foundation workshops (5 days) – face-to-face workshops that include role-playing in the areas of interviewing, negotiating, and advocacy
  • Virtual firm one-month rotations (3 months) – rotations working in a virtual law firm, testing previous training, tasks will include  interviewing simulated clients within a learning management system, allowing assessors to track progress
  • Face-to-face Capstone (4 days) – the final assessment in the program requires students to participate in a face-to-face simulated matter, which will test all the skills developed throughout the program, combined with a final reflection piece

The program is designed to be taken after students have completed their formal legal education and in conjunction with their articling.

Further details about the PREP are available here and here.

ABA releases annual profile of the legal profession

The American Bar Association has published its annual profile of the legal profession in the US. The report uses the data gathered over the course of the year to analyse changes and developments in the profession across the country.

Subjects covered include women and minorities in the profession, legal technology, pro bono, pay, legal education, lawyer wellbeing and lawyer discipline.

The link to download the full report is available here.

What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession

Abstract

Poor employment outcomes have plagued law school graduates for several years. Legal scholars have debated whether these outcomes stem from macroeconomic cycles or from fundamental changes in the market for legal services. This Article examines that question empirically, using a database of employment outcomes for more than 1,200 lawyers who received their JDs in 2010. The analysis offers strong evidence of structural shifts in the legal market. Job outcomes have improved only marginally for the Class of 2010, those outcomes contrast sharply with results for earlier classes, and law firm jobs have dropped markedly. In addition to discussing these results, the Article examines correlations between job outcomes and gender, law school prestige, and geography. In a concluding section, it offers four predictions about the future of the legal market and the economics of legal education.

Citation
Merritt, Deborah Jones, What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession (January 30, 2016). Michigan State Law Review, p. 1043, 2015; Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 290; HLS Center on the Legal Profession Research Paper No. 2015-3.

Available from the SSRN site.

The End of Law Schools: Legal Education in the Era of Legal Service Businesses

Abstract

Law school as most of us know it is doomed. Law school today – which is but a gloss on Langdell’s Harvard – attempts to prepare students to practice general law in an 1870s world. Students learn a bit about criminal law, a smattering of contracts, a little about torts, a smidgeon of property law, some of the essentials about how cases are moved through a court system. When they emerge, they typically can read and analyze cases, and are told they have learned to “think like a lawyer.” In a way, they have.

But, at least in the typical required curriculum, they haven’t been taught how to negotiate, they haven’t been taught how to build teams or work within organizations, and they haven’t been taught how to work with clients. They don’t learn project management techniques and wouldn’t know how to discuss modern information management technologies. It would be considered déclassé at most schools to suggest that they should learn how to market themselves, either within the organizations they will join or to the general public. They haven’t been shown how to build a balanced life in the law, one where they can achieve professional excellence and yet have a satisfying personal life. In short, they haven’t been taught how to “think like a lawyer” in many of the core areas that define successful lawyers today, and will increasingly define them tomorrow. But that’s not why law schools are doomed. Law schools are doomed for a more fundamental reason: law schools train only lawyers. Like a zombie, law schools stagger forward reliant on a vision from a past life, ignoring today’s diverse world of legal services and the pervasive changes wrought by the rise of the administrative state. To live, legal education needs to be connected to law as it is experienced today. New institutions should be designed based not on what best serves law students or legal educators, but on what best serves the needs of today’s society.

This article explores why such successor institutions now make sense, and examines in broad strokes what their offerings might look like.

Citation
Campbell, Ray Worthy, The End of Law Schools: Legal Education in the Era of Legal Service Businesses (November 24, 2014). Mississippi Law Journal, Forthcoming; Peking University School of Transnational Law Research Paper No. 15-7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2530051 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2530051

Singapore Ministry of Law public consultation on Committee for the Professional Training of Lawyers proposals

The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) has launched a public consultation on the proposals to implement the recommendations of the Committee for the Professional Training of Lawyers (“CPTL”).

In August 2018, MinLaw announced that it had accepted, in-principle, the CPTL’s recommendations and that implementation of the key changes would take place from the 2023 session of Part B examinations onwards. The CPTL made three key structural recommendations:

a. Uncouple the call to the Bar from the right to practise as a lawyer.
b. Raise the standard and stringency of the Part B examinations.
c. Lengthen the practice training period from six months to one year.

The full CPTL report is available on the Singapore Supreme Court site (PDF).

Full details of the consultation are on the Ministry of Law site.

The public consultation will run from 15 November to 27 December 2019.

Innovation: A New Key Discipline for Lawyers and Legal Education

Abstract:

Over the past two years, I have interviewed hundreds of in-house and law firm lawyers from around the globe to explore the changing legal marketplace, expectations of clients, and innovation in law. One of my main conclusions is that we are experiencing an Innovation Tournament in Law and almost everyone is playing in it. As I explain in more detail in my book, Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law, driven by a combination of technology, socio-economics, and globality, we are witnessing innovation on almost every legal dimension, including how legal services are priced, packaged, sourced, and delivered. Importantly, this innovation is not only coming from legal tech startups and new law companies. Law firms, the Big Four, and corporate legal departments are creating innovations of their own including new services, products, tools, and, importantly, new processes. Even those that aren’t creating innovations are playing in the Innovation Tournament by utilizing the innovations (or exapting them) to become more efficient and deliver better service. Although we are not yet seeing disruption in the law marketplace in the Clayton Christensen sense, all lawyers should care about the Innovation Tournament regardless and here’s why:

Lawyers of all types, from big law to small and mid-size firms, from government to in-house, and even solo lawyers, are being challenged to change the way they work. Clients are asking their lawyers to innovate (and often with others outside their organization or departments). However, lawyers don’t know what their clients are asking for when they ask for innovation or how to do it—or both. The good news is, however, that my interviews and my experience working with over 210 teams of lawyers and their clients on innovation journeys, indicate that what clients are really asking for with “the call to innovate” is a new type and level of collaboration and client service. The evidence suggests that our clients’ call for us to innovate is actually a call for service transformation in disguise. Whether they want an innovation in and of itself or not, our clients want lawyers to hone the mindset, skillset, and behavior of innovators. The problem with this is that many lawyers are ill-equipped to meet these new demands. Some combination of our temperament, training, and professional identity seems to work against us when we try to espouse the DNA of innovators. This is why the new discipline for practicing and aspiring lawyers needs to be innovation.

This chapter was first published by Stämpfli Verlag in the book: New Suits: Appetite for Disruption in the Legal World, co-curated by me and Dr. Guenther Dobrauz. It begins by demonstrating that clients’ call for innovation is really a call for transformation in service from their lawyers. It then explores why answering this call can be problematic for lawyers. It seeks to show that lawyers’ professional identity, training, and temperament (along with extrinsic and intrinsic motivation) make it difficult for lawyers to adopt the collaborative, creative mindset and skillset of innovators. This chapter recommends that innovation be incorporated as a new key discipline at both the law school and executive education (continuing education) level because in the process of learning how to innovate, lawyers hone the mindset, skillset, and behaviors that clients desire. In support of this contention, it reveals that, as an added benefit, by honing the innovator’s DNA, lawyers also grow into inclusive leaders our society needs us to be. The chapter concludes with some suggestions for lawyers to help them better collaborate towards innovation along with a pie-in-the-sky call to the legal universe to make innovation the new key discipline for practicing and aspiring lawyers.

Citation:

DeStefano, Michele, Innovation: A New Key Discipline for Lawyers and Legal Education (June 27, 2019). New Suits: Appetite for Disruption in the Legal World co-curated by Michele DeStefano and Dr. Guenther Dobrauz (Stämpfli Verlag 2019). Available at SSRN.

Positive feedback from pilot of SRA’s Solicitors Qualifying Examination

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a new, single assessment for qualifying solicitors and is due to be introduced by the end of 2021.

A pilot to test the first part of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination – known as SQE1 – has shown that it is on course to be a valid, rigorous assessment, while also highlighting the need for more work to see if a skills assessment is appropriate in the first stage of the exam.  Candidates will need to pass SQE1, which focuses on functioning legal knowledge, before being able to move on to SQE2, which tests legal skills.

Conducted in March, by Kaplan, the SQE1 pilot was completed by a diverse group of 316 candidates at 44 locations in the UK, and in Singapore and France. Candidates took three SQE1 papers with a total of 360 single best answer questions.  The second element of the SQE1 pilot tested skills, with one legal research and two legal writing exercises.

The pilot is part of the SRA and Kaplan’s wider work to develop a world class assessment. Hundreds of stakeholders have been involved in the development of the assessment so far. A pilot on SQE2 is due to run in December 2019.

Read more about this pilot

Law School as a Consumer Product: Beat ’em or Join ’em?

Abstract:

With rising costs, pressure on performance metrics and competitive high-profile rankings, law schools are more than ever before being judged on a consumer satisfaction basis by both students and the public. While this perception has been growing over the past two decades, it has reached a crisis point in legal education. When students have their choice of educational institutions, they may act like consumers, and choose to spend their money based on metrics that satisfy them as buyers. This consumer mindset not only impacts admissions, but also can play out in the retention of students. The loss of students transferring out can take a serious toll on a law school, including potential detriments in bar passage, productive classrooms, the loss of future high performing alumni, and the cost of replacing the tuition generation. Schools are thus pressured to address the consumer issue.

Many of the conflicts that arise as between students as consumers, and their institutions, are not necessarily based in the substance of rules. Instead, much of the complaints can easily stem from the institution’s transparency and communication about various aspects of the educational experience, from in the classroom, to a student’s prospects on the job market. As such, institutions should be considering the student perspective in formulating how they present their program of education, and the various aspects within it.

While others have asked the question outright whether college students are consumers, this article does not debate whether law students treat their institutions with a consumer mindset. It presumes they do and seeks to solve the problem for institutions. Part II of this article summarizes how this mindset arose in education and specifically how it arose in legal education, and examines previous conflicts between students and institutions as a result. Part III examines different areas of law school operations where traditional academic mindset and student consumer mindset may clash, and offers solutions and strategies as to where and how the consumer pressure should be embraced to make institutional change, and where it should be resisted to ensure the consumer pressure does not result in changes that are not in students’ best long-term interests. Part IV offers some conclusions on the approach.

Citation:

Vollweiler, Debra Moss, Law School as a Consumer Product: Beat ’em or Join ’em? (July 10, 2019). Available at SSRN.

Singapore launches ‘China-Ready Programme’ to deepen legal services cooperation with China.

The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) in Singapore, has recently launched a new programme targeting the legal industry. The educational programme is designed to help Singaporean legal professionals understand Chinese culture, business environment, legal systems and laws, as well as improving their understanding of Mandarin used in a legal context.  The programme, as well as a series of secondments and networking events, is part of MinLaw’s three-pronged strategy helping to increase opportunities in the legal services market between China and Singapore.

The programme hopes to meet the growing Chinese market for legal services. China has been Singapore’s largest trading partner and Singapore has been China’s largest foreign investor for six consecutive years since 2013. Whilst in 2018, Singapore was the largest foreign investment destination for China along the Belt and Road, capturing close to 23% of total investment flow from China to Belt and Road countries. Whilst the launch is well-timed to meet the signing of the Singapore Convention on mediation.

More information on the programme, which will be developed and delivered by the Han Culture & Education Group (HCEG), which is a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is available here.

Revised SRA approach to CPD is well recieved by law firms

Newly published feedback received by the Solicitor Regulation Authority (SRA) on continuous professional development (CPD) requirements introduced in 2016 has indicated that the changes have been well received by solicitors and law firms. The requirements, known as ‘Continuing Competence’ are available in full here and include requiring solicitors to make an annual declaration of their own training and development as part of their renewal application, allowing for greater time flexibility and more targeted development.

Feedback from firms was very positive with 40 per cent of law firms reporting that the changes have increased the amount of learning and development support offered to their solicitors, 52 per cent of firms saying that levels of learning and development have remained unchanged, and only 9 per cent reporting a reduction in the focus given to this area. SRA comments are available here, whilst the full report is available here.