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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Regulatory responses to COVID-19

We’ve put together the following list to examine different regulator responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have any questions or best practice for the rest of the ICLR community, please do get in touch, and we will be happy to include any of these in the next newsletter.

The Nederlandse Orde Van Advocaten has released a table of all responses to the pandemic that affect those working in the sector, including alternative methods for filing claims, and updates on court closures. Link available here.

The ABA has set up a task force to help Americans and those working in the profession cope with the repercussions of the pandemic, helping to identify areas of need and mobilise volunteer lawyers. Link available here.

The Bar Council of England and Wales has collated all advice on practice and legal aid into one guide, providing an overview of best practice response to the virus for practitioners.  Link available here.

The Victorian Legal Services  Board has published updated CPD guidelines to reflect the challenges presented in attending CPD sessions for lawyers under the current circumstances. Link available here.

The Canadian Bar Association has opened up pandemic planning resources to the profession, as well as releasing a podcast to help practitioners prepare. Link available here.

The SRA have now said that they will allow individual providers to decide how to carry out assessments for Qualifying Law Degrees and the Graduate Diploma in Law. With regards to the Legal Practice course, they have said that course providers may choose how to assess elective courses, and have relaxed the supervision rules for core subjects. Full statement available here.

The Bar Standards Board have decided to cancel upcoming April examinations, with students being asked to wait until the next examination session in August. They are undergoing discussion as to how this will affect pupillage requirements, as the later assessment date, and inability to complete Inns of Court sessions will leave many students unable to demonstrate the necessary requirements to begin a pupillage. Link to statement available here.

Pennsylvania State Governor Tom Wolf has mandated that all law firms and other legal services close their physical offices, in order to limit the spread of the virus. Link available here.

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Outlooks, Techniques, and Words: Product Design, Practicing Law, and Engaging Students in Legal Practice

Abstract

This paper is a reflection by a law school teacher and corporate lawyer about learning from the design disciplines. The paper describes how design influences the author’s understanding of and approach to legal documents, his use of visual methods in doing legal work and engaging with students, and concepts and language he uses in talking about legal work and legal practice. The paper suggests that practitioners and teachers need not go all-in on “design thinking” to benefit from design. Instead, they can improve their advice and work-product, and their development support of students and new lawyers, through modest refinements in practice inspired by design mindsets and methods.

Citation
Mitchell, Jay A., Outlooks, Techniques, and Words: Product Design, Practicing Law, and Engaging Students in Legal Practice (January 17, 2020).

Available from the SSRN site.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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