UKCLE ran its second day conference designed exclusively for the Scottish legal education community yesterday (15 December 2010), focusing on the challenges and opportunities in a rapidly changing academic and professional environment.
Themes for the event included opening up the LLB curriculum and Professional Education and Training 2 (PEAT 2) collaboration. There were workshop streams on clinical legal education (LLB), Work-based Learning (PEAT 2) and teaching law on non-law curricula.
The first plenary session was given by Julian Webb, UK Centre for Legal Education (UKCLE) who addressed the topic of 'legal education and the legal services market' - reflecting on the changes both north and south of the border in terms of a changing market in which different business structures may well offer different types of services. Examples were given of high volume work such as debt recovery or conveyancing which can be semi-automated; or Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) which can operate for increasingly sophisticated processes. The Indian market was cited as a high value market for this type of activity. Julian also addressed the legal education market - raising issues regarding the private sector providers and the widening gap between universities and the profession.
The first parallel session with Donald Nicolson, University of Strathclyde and Dale McFadzean, University of West of Scotland addressed clinical skills at undergraduate level - two very different approaches that feature in-house or external engagement still keep the debate alive as to whether such projects should be client or student oriented. Either way, the structure and future potential for clinical education will be shaped by this small but growing movement in Scotland.
Alongside this session, Patrick Randolph-Quinney, University Dundee, and Niamh Nic Daeid, University of Strathclyde, began the first session on science and legal education by bringing their perspectives from the fields of both philosophical and applied sciences to illustrate how problems in the presentation of scientific evidence in the legal environment are still being encountered, and how this may be ameliorated by changes to legal education.
After lunch, the second keynote was presented by Liz Campbell and Collette Paterson from The Law Society of Scotland who highlighted the recent changes to the route to qualification - in particular the new PEAT 2 (Professional Education and Training) programme which covers the traineeship period and CPD. The new framework, which will come into force on 1 November 2011, retains the existing requirement of a minimum of 20 hours each year. To support solicitors in their CPD activities, from 2011 the Society will introduce basic templates, which will be capable of being completed online, to assist with identifying training needs, recording CPD undertaken and evaluating the outcome of the training. In addition, from 2011 a wider range of activities will be acceptable as CPD. These will include activities such as structured and formalised one-to-one training, coaching, and online training, rather than the present narrow definition of group study.
The third parallel session, a workshop led by Jim Moser from Dundas & Wilson and Collette Paterson from The Law Society of Scotland, explored the role of the profession in providing legal education at this new PEAT 2 stage. Their small groups discussed the barriers and benefits to the new programme and reported back at the closing discussions. Much debate surrounded the Trainee Continuing Professional Development (TCPD) requirements and how the accreditation of the providers for TCPD would differ from the delivery of CPD to the wider profession. Many positive and negative aspects were explored and debated, which will be published as a review following the workshop.
The final parallel session led by Michael Bromby, Glasgow Caledonian University, and Fiona Raitt, University of Dundee, built upon the views of the forensic practitioners to explore how science is addressed in the legal curriculum and the role of the law schools to provide a more pervasive approach to underpin a general appreciation of the philosophy of science. The perceived benefits of co-teaching of law students and science students led to a discussion about the mechanics and benefits of joint delivery of CPD to the professions in order to foster greater links in terms of critical thinking between the two.
Yesterday, UKCLE launched its National Law Student Forum initiative with a pilot 36 hour event for invited law student representatives. The event aims were to:
The event was facilitated by Patricia McKellar and Michael Bromby (UKCLE) and Adam Mannis (UKCME) from another HEA subject centre which has been running student-oriented events since 2001. Guest speakers included Ant Bagshaw, National Union for Students (NUS) and Rebecca Huxley-Binns, Law Teacher of the Year Winner 2010.
The success of the event was largely due to the students who attended! All UK law schools were invited to nominate a delegate who could represent their students - some attendees were class/year/school reps, others were law society presidents or had other similar roles - and 20 were invited on a first-come first-served basis. A range of second and third years attended from a range of institutions representing most geographic areas and types of law schools ranging from the well established to newly created LLB providers.
The staff running the event were extremely impressed at how quickly the delegates came together, socialised and integrated into a very productive group, having never met each other before. Clearly their roles as student representatives and the common ground of studying the same discipline helped to facilitate this cohesion.
During the event, students worked in teams to identify issues, solve problems, and share best practice and experiences with each other. Some of their outputs, ideas and suggestions will be reworked into posters, photo albums and short video clips which will be uploaded in due course.
Participating students will be producing a report containing what they have learned from the event for their home institution. UKCLE will be collating, evaluating and disseminating these reports and the process ourselves to take the initiative forward.
‘Funding Legal Education in a Post Recession Britain’, held at Glasgow University, began today with an Introduction from Head of the Law School, Rosa Greaves and the new College Head/DRM.
The first session, ‘A View from the Regulators and Professional Bodies’ was chaired by Eileen Paterson, Deputy Director of Professional Legal Practice and the speakers were Liz Campbell, Director of Education and Training, Law Society of Scotland and Callum Jones, Clerk, Faculty of Advocates. Rosa Greaves made an analogy to medical education – the building blogs of academic study, practical training and professional based training. Delegates were urged not to dwell on the problems but were urged to look for solutions to the problems we face, and to discuss innovative ideas.
Liz Campbell then spoke of the historical perspective of funding for the Diploma in Legal Practice (the Scottish equivalent to the LPC – Legal Practice Course). Notably, there is uncertainty as to the number of places and that maintenance awards will no longer be offered, this pot of money being possibly used to fund additional fee awards instead. Whilst the Law Society of Scotland sets recommended salary rates during the subsequent traineeship, these are recognized to be lower than other graduate trainees. 2007 was a bumper year with demand for traineeships much higher than supply, this trend was reversed in 2009 with a 72% drop resulting in places being available, but not taken up. For 2010, places may only marginally exceed demand.
The issues raised by Liz include rising levels of student debt, the issue of part time work and the removal of maintenance grants. What impact will this have on the make-up of the profession? Looking to the future, what creative solutions can possibly come forward – discussion ensued as to a form of training levy to be met by law firms that may exist in a number of ways. It may be adjustable to reflect the contribution the firm makes to educational training and materials. The Faculty of Advocates (the Scottish bar) model was also discussed where training is provided free by the Faculty whose members contribute towards the costs, however raising of the cost of a solicitor’s practicing certificate to meet this burden may not be welcomed. Prof Leo Martin of Strathclyde University put forward a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that lawyers follow the early career footballer transfer fee arrangement that may assist to combat against smaller firms who provide training from losing their newly-qualified lawyers to the larger firms, or at least recompenses their commitment to legal education which benefits the profession as a whole.
John Hamilton, Director of Training and Education Faculty of Advocates was unable to attend, however Calum Wilson set out why the Faculty of Advocates has an interest in legal education as their Intrants must first complete the LLB, diploma and traineeship. There is perceptively a second hurdle for students wishing to pursue a career at the bar, as the faculty requires examinations in 8 core subjects, most of which are covered within the LLB although many must undertake the exams for either or both of Roman Law and International Private Law, which are not frequently covered in typical undergraduate studies. A second issue was raised in relation to unpaid traineeships – Calum indicated that he knew not of any currently being undertaken – the law society may frown upon such practice but are not in a position to enforce payment and it is hoped that this potential problem does not arise in this time of economic austerity. The process of ‘devilling’ or pupilage for 9 months is funded by the Faculty, so there is no fee, although there is no payment for the devils either.
The second session, ‘Developments in Adjoining Jurisdictions’ was chaired by the event organiser, Douglas Mill, Director of Professional Legal Practice and the speakers were Anne Fenton, Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, Queens University, Belfast and Melissa Hardee, Hardee Consulting, London.
It was particularly important and interesting to see the issues and developments in other jurisdictions. Northern Ireland is a small jurisdiction (1.8m population, 2,500 solicitors, 620 barristers, 548 law firms of which 271 are single practitioners – the largest firm having only 18 partners) facing large financial cuts. There are a set number places at Institute for Professional Legal Studies (120 for solicitors and 60 bar places) and the Graduate School of Professional Legal Studies (28 places) of which all are self-funding. For 2010/11 neither have filled their places and the issues of financial viability of the courses along with the educational impact of running with small cohorts were discussed.
Of particular interest was the joint delivery of training to the two branches of the profession (which also leads to greater collegiality and two branches, rather than two professions) where common areas exist, leading to economies of scale. Anne noted the benefits of sharing ideas and understanding between not only students, but staff and practitioners, which also received the support of the judiciary.
Melissa Hardee started with a question:
Is legal education too expensive…[for what you get]?
With unrestricted access to the LPC, the bottle-neck in England and Wales is entry to a training contract, unlike Scotland where the bottle-neck is entry to the LPC equivalent, the DipLP. With higher LPC course fees and capped undergraduate tuition fees, there are some emerging trends that LPC graduates are moving into paralegal work, paralegals are being hired in place of law firms taking in trainees and some training contracts are being deferred or withdrawn.
On the horizon is the Greene Report (due 11/10/10) which may see a raise or removal of the capped fees system, possibly a Graduate Tax or some other form or variable contribution. The problems that are brewing are the new pathways that may come with alternative business structures (ABS) both north and south of the border and the wider definition of ‘lawyer’ and provision of legal services beyond that of a qualified solicitor.
Many questions were raised by Melissa, to ‘provoke’ and engage the audience – I didn’t note them all, but attach a couple of badly-taken photos (I blame the light!):
Should law be a postgraduate subject?
Melissa agrees that it should, but also feels that the one year Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL – a postgraduate conversion course that covers the essential LLB elements for progression to the vocational level) is too short to generate the critical legal thinking required of the profession.
UKCLE have a project that is part of the Higher Education Academy/JISC Open Educational Resources Programme: SimShare.
3 workshops across the UK are scheduled, and the first took place recently in Cardiff. Still to come are York (21 April) and Edinburgh (19 May) and places are still available.
The workshops aim to offer and experience where you will:
Kevin Kerrigan from Northumbria University and myself ran an afternoon session at the UKCLE event in Edinburgh on Developing the Undergraduate Law Student Experience (see blog post: Enhancing Legal Education in Scotland Event for the morning session). Kevin spoke about how Northumbria, Westminster and others have sought to combine their undergrad substantive law programmes with the one year vocational skills course and the two year practise-based traineeship. Bringing aspects together from each of the previously separate entities there can be a more logical progression from, for example, criminal law to procedure to advocacy; or land law to conveyancing. Students are still afforded the opportunity to exit with a traditional liberal-arts style LLB and must do so unless they secure the traineeship-syle placements necessary for the remainder of the 5 year programme at a particular stage.
This reminded me of the problem-based learning approach adopted by York University (see previous blog post: What McMaster did for medical training, can York do for legal education?) last year, and of course, the recent development of the clinical LLB at Strathclyde more recently discussed in the post below.
My own presentation looked at some of the less radical means of enhancing the undergraduate experience that may not require a complete refocus of the programme, or financial / time consuming clinics – both of which can be highly commended, but require enormous effort.
I illustrated my talk with three examples: work-related learning, which includes clinics, simulations, and problem-based learning. Some of which may be time or resource intensive, but on occasion can be a short 2 day simulation package. Secondly, the internationalisation of staff, students and the programme; and thirdly, examples of tools and technologies that universities should perhaps be adopting to equip our students with skills for the 21st century.
The slides from this, and from other
presenters on the day, will most likely appear on the UKCLE website’s Scotland Pages in due course, but for now - mine is below.
Yesterday saw the launch of the extended law clinic at Strathclyde University. Since its inception in 2003, the clinic has expanded to include not only the initial advice sessions in Glasgow, but also an outreach project in Greenock, to the West of Glasgow. Earlier this year, their work as a law clinic was recognised by the LawWorks and Attorney General’s Student Pro Bono Awards 2009, shortlisted for three of the four awards and taking home the award for the Best Contribution by an Individual Law School – this being the first time that the awards have been open to students in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
A Prisons Project has also been designed and run by the Clinic’s student volunteers to offer guidance and information to prisoners on their employment rights, specifically in relation to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This will be offered to five prisons in and around the Glasgow area.
Supported financially, by both university sources and externally by law firms, the Law Clinic relies more so on the dedicated time of students, supervising staff and both solicitors and counsel who provide their advice pro bono. The evening was supported by the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, head of the Crown Office which directs all public prosecutions in Scotland. Not only a Strathclyde alumna, but also a strong proponent of pro bono work, the Lord Advocate had earlier this week promoted the National Pro Bono week in Scotland. Lord Phillips, the LibDem peer, spoke highly of the Law Clinic and other law schools (estimated at approx 100 in England and Wales) who offer students the opportunity to work with clients, but also reminded the audience that whilst pro bono can and does work well, there is still an over burdened legal aid system that cannot cope with the increases in legislation. Providing pro bono services can, said Lord Phillips, remind the profession of what they profess... making comparisons to the medical profession with the overarching Hippocratic Oath, there exists no counterpart for the legal profession.
One future development, highlighted by the Law Clinic’s director Prof Donald Nicolson, is the establishment of a clinical LLB at Strathclyde from 2010. This will enable students to reflect on their clinical cases and gain credit for their performance in both training and live case management.
This example of change to the delivery of undergraduate legal education reminded me of the discussions at the UKCLE event in Edinburgh, of which the afternoon sessions are still un-blogged! See the next post...!
This was the first UKCLE event in Scotland (that wasn’t attached to another event) for some time, and possibly the first event to involve representatives from all levels of legal education. The event was held in Edinburgh and was well attended by over 50 delegates – mainly from academic institutions (representing both the LLB and postgraduate diploma stage) but the legal profession was also widely represented by the Law Society of Scotland, HR directors and managers, heads of training and partners from law firms.
The first keynote from Alastair Robertson (HEA, Academy Scotland) covered a range of issues including the changing nature of the student learning experience, new ways of relating to businesses and the profession and forthcoming challenges: in particular how the four nations of the UK will contribute to devolved policy and the likely divergence that may lead to tensions. Relating to news earlier this week that England & Wales have a new framework for HE - will there be pressure to adopt similar or distinctly different policy in Scotland? Alastair also spoke of graduate attributes and what it means to be a graduate of a particular HEI or in a particular discipline such as law.
Prof Margaret Ross (University of Aberdeen) spoke about the diversity of the legal education student body and the study of law for its own sake. Pointing to Edinburgh University’s centenary of women in legal education, Margaret spoke of the first two women to gain a postgraduate LLB in 1909 who both had legal profession links in their family, but who did not, and could not, enter into the profession. The law society, at the time, decided to wait until the end of the Great War to see if they would have enough male members returning from the battle fields before considering whether to admit women – rather much a response to market forces than the emancipation of female lawyers!
Nevertheless, Margaret also indicated how some things have not changed – William Twining’s book Blackstone’s Tower relates a story where law students were directed to bring in a broadsheet newspaper and identify the items that had legal issues until the entirety of the paper had been considered – modern law students may well use electronic publications rather than the paper-copy but the learning experience remains the same. Less positive is the lack of change in terms of funding for legal education. Margaret made comparisons with medical practitioners, honorary NHS contracts and the general view that law is a professional subject that can be taught on a lower budget due to the absence of scientific labs etc.
Still to come, guest blog post from the Law Society of Scotland, and a review of the afternoon sessions!
The suggestion that legal language with its "elaborate circumlocutions and Latin tags" should follow the fateful path of les mots français and be abolished in favour of plain English received a bit of a knockback:
For the reformers it was an open and shut case. As Gerlis put it, the traditional conventions — from the use of expressions such as “My learned friend” to Latin expressions such as lis mota and praecipe — were out of place when communication, through texting, was moving towards shorter words and expressions. Traditional legal language did not serve the public who were entitled to understand the rules and regulations that governed their lives, he said.
This was underlined by Clive Ludlow, a prison officer at Belmarsh, who spoke from the floor on behalf of Safe Ground, the education charity. He said that a survey of prisoners indicated that many were baffled by the legal arguments that determined their futures.
Atkins recounted her own recent and confusing experience with a lawyer. “It’s very important that I, as a client, understand what you, as my legal adviser, are saying.”
In response Gordon and Ley conceded that many complicated forms of expressions could be dropped. But the problem, they said, was not with English legal language but with the lawyers who used it — and who lapsed too readily into well-worn phrases.
Gordon said this was not the fault of the language. Its strength and vigour lay in a history of solid Anglo-Saxon words, with the occasional Latin and French term to provide consistency and concision. As Jonathan Croucher, of Taylor Wessing, pointed out: “The law is often not straightforward.” It was inevitable that some complexity would creep in.
As the debate progressed, the case for precision cut the ground from beneath the feet of the radicals. The “rushed” Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 highlighted the dangers that arose when seemingly clear words such as “pitbull terrier” were used. The public might think that they knew what the words meant, but that would not be enough in a court where exactitude and certainty were required, said Ley. Correctly used legal language would guard against these ambiguities.
Speaking from the floor, Professor Susan Nash, the Dean of the City Law School, City University, raised the issue of whether universities should share the blame for obscure legal communication.
She said that the need for “appropriate language suited to the listener” was heavily emphasised at law schools, such as her own, but the complexity of law inevitably meant that some technical language would have to be used — although only when essential.
The question hanging over the debate was whether the French today were doing any better than in the 14th century. Pascal Chadenet, of Salans, the Paris law firm, said that while French contracts were usually shorter than their English equivalents, French legal discourse was at least as confusing and often more complex. “When you read a decision of the French court you often don’t understand the question, let alone the answer,” he said.
Leon Pickering and Saad Butt, both law students, summarised the arguments, followed by Lord Justice Jacob, who, in his guidance to the audience, said: “In the courts one only saw the pathology of the law, not the physiology.” The point went home. The vote revealed that the audience had changed its mind and soundly rejected the motion.
The French did away with Latin themselves, according to the Ordinance of Villers Cotterêts in 1539, which made Parisian French the sole legal language, although not necessarily the sole language of the country (cf. lingua franca?!). Stipulating:
"Nous voullons et ordonnons qu’ilz soient faictz et escrits si clerement qu’il n’y ait ne puisse avoir aucune ambiguïté ou incertitude, ni lieu à en demander interpretacion"[We wish and command that [judicial acts] be made and written so clearly that there be neither ambiguity or uncertainty nor possibility of ambiguity or uncertainty, nor cause to ask interpretation thereof]. Humm, did this really work?!
Interestingly, more of my forensic anthropology students have studied 'Higher Latin' at school than my LLB students - nevertheless, my impromptu and ad hoc translations of actus reus and mens rea into the 'naught act' and the 'naughty thought' are sufficent to get the point across! I haven't yet come up with a witty translation for res ipsa loquitur (although Hobhouse LJ states this is no more than a convenient Latin phrase) or res gestae, but answers on a comment/postcard please!
The Networked Learning Community will be holding their Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning in Aalborg, Denmark 3rd & 4th May 2010. In the run-up to the conference, there are several online hotseats using discussion boards to facilitate a week-long debate by some of the leading thinkers in the field. The first session is due to commence on 28th September 2009, with Caroline Haythornthwaite, a specialist in e-learning from the University of Illinois. The schedule is as follows:
The hot seats are free to attend. All you need to do is sign up at the conference community
website and join the online hot seat debates. Social networking
sites are becoming increasingly popular for academic conferences. Last
Year, LILAC09 took its first
steps using a wiki as I discussed last year in this blog plost, whereas
ALT-C used CrowdVine and LT2008 ran a Ning
site to promote online social interactions.
In this particular instance, the Network are using the Jomsocial plugin for a Joomla community site to organise pre-conference events and online discussion. Typically, conferences have used such sites to facilitate rather than direct discussions, which can lead to very low, or very high uptake depending on the persons registered, their interests and motivation. The use of 'hotseats' this year gives a bit of scaffolding to organise the discussions. The conference guidelines for running a hotseat suggest that:
So, hopefully the online events will not only facilitate and promote discussion, but also generate interest for the actual conference itself for those who can or cannot attend.
So, hopefully the online events will not only facilitate and promote discussion, but also generate interest for the actual conference itself for those who can or cannot attend.