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NEWCASTLE LAW SCHOOL: The Professional Law School. ALTA Conference 2012: Best Practices in Australian Clinical Legal Education, July 2012, Sydney. Clinical Legal Education Newcastle style*. A whole of curriculum approach from the commencement of law studies through to completion.

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newcastle law school the professional law school

NEWCASTLE LAW SCHOOL: The Professional Law School

ALTA Conference 2012: Best Practices in Australian

Clinical Legal Education, July 2012, Sydney

clinical legal education newcastle style
Clinical Legal Education Newcastle style*
  • A whole of curriculum approach from the commencement of law studies through to completion.
  • Collective responsibility by staff to align learning outcomes with the School’s clinical legal education approach.
  • Clinical experiences are aligned with the degree’s learning objectives, the School’s graduate profile, University graduate attributes and APLEC Competency standards for Entry Level lawyers together with the admission requirements of admitting authorities.

*I acknowledge the assistance of Katherine Lindsay, LLB Program Convenor & Director of Curriculum, Newcastle Law School in the preparation of this presentation.

slide3

Our distinctive feature is our fully-integrated clinical

legal education program which is based around a ‘live

client’ model ( the ‘Professional Program’).

Our students “experience the law”.

  • Its centrepiece is the University of Newcastle Legal Legal Centre (UNLC), co-located with seminar teaching rooms and lecture theatres in Newcastle city.
cle integrated and scaffolded throughout the curriculum
CLE: Integrated and Scaffolded throughout the curriculum
  • First Year Experience: Small classes - active engagement model of learning - school leaver and graduate streams
  • Simulated client matter – a sexual harassment case - running a file – following client’s case through to compulsory conciliation – reflection exercise on ADR*
  • Observation of client interview at UNLC during semester 1, a post-interview reflection with UNLC clinical supervisor and then written reflection exercise
  • *Up Close and Personal – Creating a Simulated Client Experience for First Year Law Students by Ann Apps, Sher Campbell, Kate Lindsay and Nicola Ross
cle integrated and scaffolded throughout the curriculum1
CLE: Integrated and Scaffolded throughout the curriculum
  • FYE: Peer learning in appellate advocacy

exercise.

Apprenticeship of the heart, head and hand – William M. Sullivan et al, Educating Lawyers: preparation for the profession of law (2007)

cle integrated and scaffolded throughout the curriculum2

Professional

Skills

CLE: Integrated and Scaffolded throughout the curriculum
  • 2YE : Criminal Law and Procedure - court observation exercise and reflection of a Local Court matter
  • 3YE : Contracts - problem solving approach
cle integrated and scaffolded throughout the curriculum 4ye 5ye

Professional

Skills

Apprenticeship of the heart, head and hand

CLE: Integrated and Scaffolded throughout the curriculum: 4YE, 5YE
  • UNLC is the centrepiece: the School’s legal practice is an intensive teaching and learning facility serving disadvantaged members of the community in accessing the legal system and justice.
  • Strong integration of doctrine and legal practice, further incremental development of skills and values over two years.
  • Professional Program students have intensive real client exposure and are involved in in-depth case work.
cle integrated and scaffolded throughout the curriculum 4ye 5ye1

Professional

Skills

Apprenticeship of the heart

CLE: Integrated and Scaffolded throughout the curriculum: 4YE, 5YE
  • A minimum of 100 hours of professional placement must be successfully undertaken at the UNLC before a student can progress to an externship, most students undertake 180 hours at UNLC.
  • Students are required to complete a total of 360 hours of professional placement.
  • Together with advice clinics, the UNLC outreach activities include Law on the Beach and ‘Street Law’ program for international students.
cle integrated and scaffolded throughout the curriculum 4ye 5ye2

Professional

Skills

Apprenticeship of the heart, hand

CLE: Integrated and Scaffolded throughout the curriculum: 4YE, 5YE
  • Mandatory clinical modules as required by admitting authorities together with specialised modules which align with UNLC casework and staff specialisation including Environmental Practice, Consumer Credit and Tribunal Advocacy
  • Aligning clinical modules with core LL.B. courses - Family Law Practice module with Family Law in the LL.B.
adding value to legal education

Professional

Skills

Apprenticeship of the heart, hand

Adding value to legal education
  • Opportunities to discuss UNLC casework across the entire cohort
  • Understanding of the legal and social issues which provide a context for the practice of law. Promotes identification of non-legal issues – placement of social work students at UNLC
  • Promotes student autonomy and collaboration with peers
  • Inculcates an ethic of professionalism
  • Exposure to real ethical issues which can involve uncertainty and conflict
adding value to legal education1

Professional

Skills

Apprenticeship of the heart

Adding value to legal education
  • Recent student feedback after UNLC placement:

“Practical problem solving becomes an essential

asset as a result of this program, as students

are forced to recognise the reality that the remedies we discover for clients must not only be effective but affordable as not every client is able to afford their day in court. Not everything goes to the High Court.”

some statistics
Some Statistics...
  • About 2/3rds of our cohort undertake the Professional Program, entry is subject to a quota
  • In 2012, 122 students enrolled in Professional Program, student/staff ratio on placement at UNLC 1:8 .
  • Law School Staffing profile – 25 with 5.5 designated clinical staff, clinical staff teach into LLB program and vice versa.
  • 4th year students attend UNLC 7 hours per week on placement throughout the semester and attend a minimum of 7 advice clinics throughout the year, most 5th year students undertake an externship.
  • Compulsory module seminars are about 5-6 hours per week during the semester.
assessment

Academic Skills

Apprenticeship of the heart

Professional

Skills

Assessment
  • Clinical exercises in LL.B. courses are fully graded
  • Formative and summative assessment through the Professional Program
  • Pass/fail assessment of clinical exercises and at clinic (under review)
  • Portfolio folder records the development of skills throughout the program
20 years on choice in legal education strains
20 years on... CHOICE in LEGAL EDUCATION : Strains?????
  • Institutional strain of increasing student numbers, quota for admission on academic merit
  • Are non-Professional Program students perceived as “poor cousins”?
  • Ensuring all students have in depth clinical experiences
marketability
Marketability ...
  • Networking for students during placement and collaboratively working with peers.
  • Positioning of the clinical program within the law degree
  • Employability of graduates - according to the NSW Law Society Graduate Employment and Summer Clerkship Programs 2011, Newcastle Law School students have one of the highest success rates in securing highly competitive summer clerkships with major law firms in Australia.
  • Seamless transition to legal practice
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