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Professional Legal Education Conference

Harmonising Legal Education: Aligning the Stages in Lifelong Learning for Lawyers

1 - 3 October, 2020 | Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia

Updated Date Claimer and Call for Papers

The 2020 Professional Legal Education Conference will now be a virtual conference, with registration free of charge. Speakers will be able to deliver their presentations online, and attendees will be able to view the presentations, ask questions and provide feedback remotely. The program will be delivered as a combination of live streaming and pre-recorded videos able to be watched at any time. (Presenters and attendees able to do so will still have the option of attending the Conference in person.)

Conference Theme: ‘Harmonising Legal Education’

The three main stages in the lifelong learning journey of the typical lawyer are the completion of the law degree (the Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor); satisfaction of the practical training requirements for admission with either a traineeship or a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (PLT); and post-admission education in the form of continuing professional development, specialist accreditation or postgraduate study such as a Master of Laws. All three stages have been subjected to criticism by various stakeholders. Employers complain that the content of the law degree does not reflect the reality of contemporary legal practice and that new law graduates must ‘unlearn’ what they have learned at law school. New lawyers complain that PLT fails to adequately prepare them for the legal workplace. Law schools allege that CPD is inadequately rigorous and law societies allege that formal postgraduate study is of little benefit to practitioners. Some criticisms are the result of ignorance of what actually occurs in the relevant stage of the learning journey. Other criticisms have merit and could be addressed by greater collaboration between those responsible for each stage of the journey

This conference will seek to facilitate greater alignment between the stages in the educational journey of lawyers by bringing together legal academics, legal practitioners, law students, PLT trainers, CPD providers, law societies, law librarians, regulators, administrators and others to share their insights and experiences, learn from each other, and collaborate on the harmonisation of professional legal education.

Conference Highlights

Thursday 1 October

Animal Law Education Workshop and Public LectureThe Conference will be immediately preceded by the Animal Law Education Workshop on Thursday 1 October, hosted by Voiceless, Bond University and Lewis & Clark Law School. The Workshop will be invitation only, but will conclude with a public lecture at 4.00pm by Professor Rajesh K Reddy of the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School to which all conference delegates are invited.

Friday 2 October, 9.15am – 10.30am

‘Is legal education in Australia over-regulated or under-regulated?’This panel session will explore whether law schools and other legal education providers are unreasonably constrained by the obligation to comply with the ‘Priestley 11’, Admission Requirements, the LACC Standards, the Competency Standards for Entry Level Lawyers, the CALD Standards, the AQF, the Higher Education Standards, and so on, or whether legal education providers require additional or alternative regulation to raise the standard of teaching and improve student learning outcomes. A key focus will be upon whether the current regulatory environment promotes or inhibits harmonisation of the stages in a lawyer’s lifelong learning journey.

Saturday 3 October, 9.15am – 10.30am

‘You had one job!’: Law schools are failing at preparing graduates for practice
This debate will explore both sides of the argument about whether or not law schools in Australia are doing enough to prepare law students for contemporary legal practice, adopting an approach that is simultaneously insightful, informative and playful.

Saturday 3 October, 3.00pm – 3.45pm

Trauma, stigma and compassionate engagement: The need for reform in legal education, training and practice
Psychological trauma is a common experience of clients and witnesses in criminal law practice and other areas including family law, child protection, domestic violence and refugee law. Trauma interferes with the legal process by disturbing a person’s memory and their decision-making and may cause a range of PTSD symptoms including anxiety and depression which can reduce their effective participation in mediation or litigation. In this plenary presentation Dr Colin James, ANU, will propose a trauma-informed culture-change in all three branches of the profession: legal education, training and practice.

Call for Papers

The balance of the conference on 2 and 3 October will be comprised of streamed sessions of individual presentations. Potential presenters are invited to submit abstracts for papers on the theme of harmonising legal education generally, or upon the ways in which any of the following are addressed (or not addressed) by the various stages in lifelong learning for lawyers.

  • Wellness and resilience
  • Practical legal skills training
  • Ethics and professionalism
  • Serving the public good
  • New technologies
  • Internationalisation and globalisation
  • Diversification in legal services delivery

Presenters will be able to choose between delivering their paper via unrecorded livestream, via recorded livestream, or as a pre-recorded video of their presentation. (Presenters and attendees able to do so will still have the option of attending the Conference in person.)

Please submit your abstract (no more than 300 words) by close of business on 31 August 2020 to [email protected].

This conference is hosted by the Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLE) and the Wellness Network for Law.
The CPLE is a community of legal educators, researchers, practitioners and administrators who collaborate in defining, understanding and promoting best practice in the teaching of law. The work of the Centre has a particular emphasis upon the changing nature of professional legal education and training in the context of an internationalised, transformed and technology-enhanced legal services sector.
The Wellness Network for Law is a community of legal academics, practitioners and students who are committed to addressing the high levels of psychological distress experienced in law and promoting wellness at law school, in the legal academy and in the profession. The Network seeks to achieve these aims through supporting a deeper understanding of the onset and causes of psychological distress, as well as through the development of strategies for preventing and ameliorating distress, and for fostering wellbeing, within law schools and the profession.