'You had one job!’: Law schools are failing at preparing graduates for practice

Plenary Debate, Sally Kift, Michael Lavarch, Luke Murphy, Ann-Maree David, Tanya Atwill, Matthew Roach

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractProfessional

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 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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