Vol 29(6) 2004 - Law schools

Editors for this issue: Daniel Stepniak & WA Committee

Opinion: The context and questions of legal education reform

Pages: 263 to 310

Taking skills seriously: Reforming Australian legal education

David Weisbrot

There is a powerful disconnection between the traditional, doctrinally focused curriculum of many Australian law schools, and the intellectual and professional skills and approaches lawyers now require to succeed in the increasingly dynamic work environment in which they find themselves. Comparing the relatively static situation of Australian legal education with significant changes in the Australian legal profession gives some insight into this disconnection.

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Article

The complete law school: Avoiding the production of 'half-lawyers'

Paul O'Shea

Australian legal academics are already working hard at better integration of theory, ethics, values and context into the teaching of all law subjects. This article aims to suggest some small ways to facilitate this work. It will also argue that practical legal training courses should be taught in Law Schools and not in stand-alone institutions. Both, teaching more theory and teaching more practice, are necessary steps to avoid producing legal mechanics or, as Professor Peter Birks called them, 'half-lawyers'.

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Article

Law schools in the 21st century: Not just training legal practitioners

Rob Guthrie and Joseph Fernandez

This article examines the change in the delivery of law degrees in the last three decades. It notes how legal education has moved away from traditional methods of teaching with a heavy emphasis on substantive law, but includes the study and practice of a range of skills and practices designed to provide a broad legal education. The article considers the apparent over-supply of law graduates and concludes that changes to the legal profession in the last 20 years, which include a reduced availability of clerkships, require a re-thinking of the delivery of law degrees. Finally it argues that the law degree of the 21st century should focus on a student-centred approach which integrates increased skills components in order to enhance the employability of the graduates for the legal profession and a range of other professions.

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Article

Student pro bono: Developing a public service ethos in the contemporary Australian law school

Tracey Booth

Contemporary legal education needs to be reconfigured in ways that seek to foster the ethic of public service and the promotion of a strong pro bono culture in Australia. The director of a pilot student pro bono program at the University of Western Sydney introduces Pro Bono Students Australia (PBSA).

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Article

Buttercup goes to law school: Student wellbeing in stressed law schools

Judy Allen and Paula Baron

This article is concerned with issues of the health and wellbeing of Australian law students. Overseas studies show a decline in the values and motivation of students who undertake law leading to a significant risk to mental health. The authors are currently engaged in research that seeks to determine whether Australian law students experience a similar decline. The hypothesis of this study is that law students experience a decline in life satisfaction and wellbeing that correlates with a decline in intrinsic motivation and values. To date, their preliminary demographic survey of the 2004 first year cohort at the University of Western Australia (UWA) has yielded a picture of the first year law student that raises questions about her future wellbeing. This article reports on this preliminary demographic and reflects on the implications of our hypothesis in the current tertiary climate. The conclusion is pessimistic: the authors are of the view that the likely increase in student numbers in law, and the consequent pressures brought to bear on Australian law schools, are likely to have a deleterious effect on Buttercup, the quintessential first year student, in both the short and the long term.

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Article

Beneath the sea: Determining a maritime boundary between Australia and East Timor

Natalie Bugalski

Negotiations between the Australia and East Timor over the determination of a permanent maritime boundary in the oil-rich Timor Sea have failed. Australia argues that the natural prolongation of its continental shelf covering most of the Timor Sea should determine the border, while East Timor argues that the border should follow the median line between the two landmasses instead. Billions of dollars in oil revenue are at stake and, as Natalie Bugulski argues, recent developments in international law favour East Timor.

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Article

Banks behaving badly

Therese Wilson

The failure of mainstream financial institutions to serve low-income earners has resulted in a significant social and economic problem. This article argues that this problem requires an effective regulatory response from government. The author argues, Australian governments have to date focused on 'band-aid' approaches, but that the time has come to seriously address this problem by requiring mainstream financial institutions to adequately serve low-income earners.

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Article

Legal education: Changes to higher education

Jodie Jansen

This brief discusses recent and proposed changes to higher education and their effects on legal education. It argues that they will have far-reaching effects which legal educators and the profession will need address.

Price: $4.40
Brief

East Timor: Viva Timor Lorosae

Catie Parsons

This brief describes the East Timor immersion program run through the Edmund Rice Centre at the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle. The author, a recent arts/law graduate, participated in both the first and second trips and was able to use them as credit towards her degree. She discusses the experience of visiting the world's newest nation in its formative stage, the structure of the program and its value in terms of legal education.

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Brief
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