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Legal Education Digest

Legal Education Digest
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Barker, D --- "From the Editor" [2008] LegEdDig 30; (2008) 16(3) Legal Education Digest 3


One of the interesting aspects of legal education is the wide-ranging effect which it can have on the various strata of the community. Although there is a common misconception that the law schools are preoccupied with recruiting from the more privileged members of society, the truth is that legal educators do have a concern in attracting law students from a wide socio-economic background. It was in 1996 that the Centre for Legal Education published a Monograph authored by myself, in collaboration with Anna Maloney, entitled Access to Legal Education which drew attention to the possibilities of expanding access into the legal profession. I mention this because many of the articles which are digested in this edition of the Digest are concerned with either courses or programs which involve teaching law students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or minority ethnic groups.

It is appropriate that the first two articles digested under Clinical Legal Education involve this theme. In the first one Cody and Green examine some of the procedures which the University of New South Wales’ Law School has introduced to address Indigenous disadvantage in, and exclusion from, legal education. In contrast Carasik describes a clinical model which incorporates social change theory and anti-poverty work in a global context whereby he envisages partnering the New York Law School Clinical Research Institute with a law school clinic in China. The third article by O’Connor is concerned with the teaching of Intellectual Property within a clinical context, particularly with regard to the development of Cross-Intellectual Property content mini-courses taught in conjunction with Business School programs.

There was difficulty in categorising the challenging article by Armstrong and Wildman on teaching race and teaching whiteness. Finally it was decided that it would be appropriate to place it under Cultural Perspectives. The article examines, whether or not it is specifically mentioned in the classroom, the importance of establishing the context for any discussion about race in general and whiteness in particular.

Individual Subjects/Areas of Law provides the classification for Sebok’s article on the use of comparative materials to teach first-year torts. This account is particularly interesting for the fact that it incorporates materials on damages which the author is the first to admit are ‘tricky to teach’. Nevertheless this does not prevent him from introducing the problems posed within this topic of Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (‘NIED’), and then extending the discussion on this particular aspect of damages in comparison with the various European approaches to emotional distress and contrasting with the American System.

Law Schools is both the category and the focus for Bowman’s article in which he opens with the statement that: ‘legal scholars love to write about law schools’. It is a stimulating examination as to why junior law faculty members can make a positive contribution to the teaching and the future of American law schools.

The ever on-going debate on Legal Ethics is reflected in the two articles included in this edition. In the first, Economides contrasts Anglo-American conceptions of professional responsibility, taking account of the teaching of ethics beyond these systems and its extension into Latin America and other parts of Asia. The main focus of the article considers its effect on Japan which is now also reflecting on the ethical dimension to modern legal education. In the second article Kerrigan enthuses on whether it is possible for law clinics to be the ‘most creative, exciting and productive way of inculcating knowledge and understanding of ethical issues and why sometimes they are not.’

Under the classification Minority Groups, Lewinbuk considers whether successful lawyers can think in different languages. Lewinbuk’s article takes account of the different criteria which are applied to allow law graduates to be admitted under the various global jurisdictions and the implications which this has for lawyers who are contacted and retained by clients in a world-wide context.

Skills is the heading for two varied articles. Thrower has a particular interest in increasing and integrating skills instruction with doctrinal information and the adjunct of importing doctrine into legal writing courses as exemplified in the DePaul University College of Law three-semester course in Legal Analysis, Research and Communication. In contrast Wisberg and Peters explore the various aspects of critical listening and the research carried out by Elbow and Peters. Other theories are examined within the article which encourages both law students and lawyers to extend their repertoire of skills in listening.

Robbins’ article was difficult to classify but it was decided that it would be appropriately categorised under Teaching skills, although a good case could be made out for it to placed under Philosophy of legal education. In this article a strong case is made out for a better recognition of legal writing, which Robbins alleges is greatly undervalued in American law schools. The importance of legal writing within the law school curriculum is a factor which the Editor has emphasised in recent books reviews within the Digest.

The concluding article by Walsh was again difficult to place into a category. Whilst Undergraduate legal education might seem inappropriate, it does go to the very heart of that which legal education is concerned, which is instilling the concept of social justice into the values and careers aspirations of law students.

The book review in this edition is Best Practices for Legal Education by Roy Stuckey and others, a most significant publication dealing with the outcomes of the Clinical Legal Education Association’s Report on its ‘Best Practices Project into Legal Clinical Education’.

I should also like to mention that Simon Rice has drawn my attention to the fact that his article in the last edition of the Digest entitled Assessing — but not grading was originally published by Macquarie University and was only a Working Paper at the stage that it was incorporated into the Digest. Simon has mentioned it is intended to be published as a major article at a later date, and I am only too pleased to bring this fact to the attention of our readers whom, I am sure, will be looking forward to an expanded article on the topic in due course. I should however mention at this point that the Digest incorporates both articles and working papers into each issue and we do our best to make sure the source of the work is clear in our referencing. We are delighted to be part of a community of published work regardless of whether it has been published as an article or working paper.

Finally, this is the last edition of the Digest with which Samantha McGolrick will be associated as both CLE Administrator and Editorial Assistant. I would like to pay tribute to Samantha’s many years of dedicated service to both the Centre and the Digest, and to express the best wishes of all the Centre and LED staff and readers to her in her future career.

Emeritus Professor David Barker AM


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