Educating Lawyers for Tradition and Change: Using Applied Technologies to Teach Foundation Property Principles

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The professional literature of the legal services industry has for some time been deeply concerned with the effect of digital technologies on the law and legal practice. In law schools, where future practitioners are educated, there has also been a movement to embrace technologies—not least to prepare future graduates for the work they are likely to encounter. Despite what appears to be existing widespread practices of learning, applying, and developing technology-based solutions to legal problems, the reality is different. The spread of technology in the legal profession and legal education is uneven and cannot be said—yet—to represent disruption in the true sense (Christensen, 1997).
The legal profession faces the challenge of what some regard as a wholesale updating of knowledge, skills, and practices. At the same time, graduate lawyers need to comprehend the traditions of the law embedded within legal reasoning and the law itself. But it is graduate lawyers who are best placed also to bring new knowledge, skills, and thinking into the profession. The question is how legal education might harness the best of both tradition and change, to achieve this outcome.
This paper suggests that without jettisoning the traditions of legal thought or the doctrinal foundation of legal education, it is possible to facilitate law students’ engagement with new and emergent technologies. It uses a case study of a proposal involving a blockchain application in the Torrens system, to illustrate how new technologies might be used as a lens through which to understand theoretical and doctrinal principles. We suggest that rather than detracting from the tradition of core doctrinal knowledge, incorporating technologies into doctrinal subjects embraces the skill of adapting to new technologies. Not only will students be introduced to doctrine and new technologies, but we suggest that the capacity to adapt to new contexts is the sort of disposition at the heart of lifelong learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Event2020 Professional Legal Education Conference: Harmonising Legal Education: Aligning the Stages in Lifelong Learning for Lawyers - Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia
Duration: 1 Oct 20203 Oct 2020


Conference2020 Professional Legal Education Conference
CityGold Coast
OtherBond University’s Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLE) was proud to host the 2020 Professional Legal Education conference on the theme of ‘Harmonising Legal Education: Aligning the Stages in Lifelong Learning for Lawyers’, in partnership with the Australasian Law Academics Association (ALAA), the Law Wellness Network and Voiceless.

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 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.
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