The Law Society of Saskatchewan has released a new episode of its Legal Skies podcast, outlining the ongoing changes to legal education in Canada, as well as the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had and will have on education and training. The podcast features Dr. Kara Mitchelmore of the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED), and features discussion about the new practice readiness education programme, as well as ongoing issues around remote learning and assessment.
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.
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).
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.
Conklin, Michael, Learning from Law Professors: An Analysis of What the Best Law Teachers Do (June 1, 2020).
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.
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.
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.
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,”
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.
“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.
Disu, Damilare, Current Day Realities of Legal Education in Nigeria: Challenges, Prospects and Productive Way Forward (February 9, 2020).
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.