Business, Law and Regulation: A Model for Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Future Law Graduates

Christina Do, Nicole Wilson-Rogers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


In Australia, it is generally accepted that the role of legal education is to satisfy the academic requirements prescribed for admission to legal practice as a practitioner. As the nature of legal practice changes, legal education must adapt to meet the needs of the legal profession. Recently, the legal profession has seen substantial changes due to a significant growth in globalisation and advancement in technology. These changes have led the profession to hypothesise the role and purpose of lawyers in society moving into the future. In a changing and dynamic profession, it is important to equip law graduates with core legal knowledge and skills in order to adequately prepare them for the evolving legal profession. Undisputedly, the teaching of black letter law forms a substantial basis of most undergraduate Bachelor of Laws curricula. Although discipline knowledge is a prominent aspect of the Australian Qualification Framework, the Australian Learning & Teaching Council’s Leaning and Teaching Academic Standards Project for the Bachelor of Laws, and the Council of Australian Law Deans’ Standards, each of these frameworks also place emphasis on the importance of the acquisition of core legal skills, such as critical thinking. The skill of critical thinking is a pivotal part of tertiary education in many disciplines, and an essential aspect of ‘thinking like a lawyer’. When engaging in legal research and problem solving, it is important that law students and graduates are able to critically analyse, evaluate and create solutions. In an increasingly technological world, where artificial intelligence is used as a means of conveying legal knowledge, it is important to equip law students and graduates with the skill to critically analyse and create solutions to solve legal problems. These skills are often reflected in University Graduate Attributes, and employers frequently cite the ability of engaging in critical analysis as an essential and valuable skill in law graduates. The incorporation of critical thinking into the law curriculum varies between institutions and disciplines, creating much scholarly commentary on the best approach. This paper outlines the approach adopted by the Curtin Law School to promote critical thinking skills in the first-year compulsory unit, ‘Business, Law and Regulation’. It is argued that the introduction of this skill during the first year of legal studies is essential. By promoting the skill of critical thinking in first year, students are given a robust foundation upon which they can build refined critical thinking skills in later years of study, before they graduate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Future of Australian Legal Education: A Collection
EditorsKevin Lindgreen, Francois Kunc, Michael Coper
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherLawbook Co.
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9780455241357, 045524135X
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventThe Future of Australian Legal Education Conference - Sydney, Australia
Duration: 11 Aug 201713 Aug 2017 (Brochure ) (AAL 2017 Conference) (Conference Program)


ConferenceThe Future of Australian Legal Education Conference
Abbreviated titleAAL
OtherTo mark the 10th anniversary of the Australian Academy of Law (AAL), the 90th anniversary of the Australian Law Journal (ALJ), and the 30th anniversary of the Pearce Report on Australian Law Schools, the AAL and ALJ presented a national conference on the future of Australian legal education from 11-13 August 2017.

The conference was sponsored by the AAL and ALJ publisher Thomson Reuters, and supported by the Law Council of Australia.

The conference provided a forum for an informed, national discussion on the future of legal study and practice in Australia, covering practitioners, academics, judges and, of course, students.

The conference keynote speaker was internationally acclaimed Professor Martha C. Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed to the Law School and Philosophy Department, University of Chicago.
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