Centre for Legal Education

In June this year, as a Nottingham Trent University Senior Fellow, I facilitated three workshops/roundtables at Nottingham Law School. The overarching themes for the three workshops was around the imperatives for ‘New Approaches to Lawyering’, to better meet the needs of community into the future. Each session had a very different focus and participant group.

The first session examined health justice partnerships and multidisciplinary practice and law clinics, the second looked at alternatives to the sometimes-problematic adversarial system and the final workshop/roundtable examined the future of legal education.  Using a deliberative, democratic style, the sessions were designed to facilitate conversations so that participants could share insights, expertise, experience and ideas by way of facilitated conversation points and positioning in the most recent research and commissions of inquiry.

The workshops explored ways forward and canvassed problem-solving approaches and restorative practice and holistic and responsive client centred approaches. The impact of each workshop included actioning ideas for future action in the UK, including new cross sector collaborations and plans for change. These were recorded and have been shared amongst participants who formed the groups and they will no doubt come together in future exploring some of the initiatives that were suggested.

Many thanks to the Nottingham Law School (NLS), Centre for Legal Education and Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families who hosted the event. To Professor Jane Ching and the NLS team who helped formulate and coordinate and note take the sessions and the Events Team.

Dr Liz Curran, Associate Professor, ANU School of Legal Practice, ANU College of Law

13 July 2018

Building collaborations locally -Applying a health justice partnerships model to law clinics (20th June)

This facilitated discussion by Dr Liz Curran of Australian National University will take place from 14.30 to 16.30 with post event informal discussion until 18.30.

The event will be of interest to those involved in clinical legal education but also to those in the advice, health and justice sectors.  Dr Curran will lead dialogue around the concept of multidisciplinary clinics to enhance student learning and to reach the socially excluded who trust community workers by allowing them to access legal advice through the health sector.  The objective of the event is to advance and build relationships and identify some actions with a view to broadening and operationalising relationships and modes of clinic interventions that might be useful.

The event is hosted by the Centre for Legal Education at Nottingham Law School and is free to attend.  Light refreshments will be available.  Places are limited so the organisers would appreciate it if anyone who has booked but is later unable to attend advises them of this so that the place can be released.

 

 

Alternative ways to approach legal problem solving and disputes to the adversarial process to seek justice (25th June)

This facilitated discussion by Dr Liz Curran of Australian National University will take place from 14.30 to 16.30 with post event informal discussion until 18.30.

The event will be of interest to academics and practitioners in the justice and conflict resolution sectors and particularly in family and domestic violence support, as well as those with a particular interest in problem-solving and restorative justice. Dr Curran will lead dialogue around alternative approaches to lawyering, including therapeutic, problem solving courts; neighbourhood justice centres, conflict conferencing, round table dialogue and facilitation; inquisitorial. It will focus on family law and areas of law that intersect with family law problems,  such as care and protection of children, family violence, self-representation, poverty flowing from separation and abuse that often emerge.

The objective of the event is to bring together a range of academics, professionals and practitioners to look at alternative options given recent universal acknowledgement of the harms, costs and complex processes of the adversarial system.  New approaches will be shared by experts in academia and practitioners that might be less problematic and traumatic for participants in the process. e.g. family law, institutional abuse, family violence and so on

The event is jointly hosted by the Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families; and the Centre for Legal Education at Nottingham Law School and is free to attend.  Light refreshments will be available. Places are limited so the organisers would appreciate it if anyone who has booked but is later unable to attend advises them of this so that the place can be released.

 

New approaches to lawyering and the implications for legal education: equipping our students to meet the changing world (27th June)

This facilitated discussion by Dr Liz Curran of Australian National University will take place from 14.30 to 16.30 with post event informal discussion until 18.30.

The event will be of interest to students, academics, employers, regulators and professional bodies and careers advisors in the legal sector and in sectors where a legal background is an advantage. Dr Curran will encourage participants to share teaching experiences and innovations that meet the needs of students and move them into employability in the modern age.

The event is hosted by the Centre for Legal Education at Nottingham Law School and is free to attend.  Light refreshments will be available. Places are limited so the organisers would appreciate it if anyone who has booked but is later unable to attend advises them of this so that the place can be released.

The school was delighted to host the book launch for Dr Liz Curran’s innovative new publication Better Law for a Better World: New Approaches to Law Practice and Education (Routledge).  The text is designed for law students, legal educators and practitioners and covers both theoretical and highly practical ways in which legal practice and legal education can work in and with communities to improve client-centred practice.

The launch took the form of an online panel discussion, involving panel members and other participants from the academy, practice and the judiciary, and also spanning the globe. Chaired by our own Professor Jonathan Doak, the insightful panel members were Justice Maxwell, President of the Victorian Court of Appeal (Australia); Sue James, President of the Legal Action Group (UK) and Michele Leering of Queen’s University and Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (Canada).

A further launch, hosted by Australian National University took place on 4th May. A final face to face Melbourne launch by Readings Bookstore will take place in Melbourne on 18 May 2021

In the third of a series of posts on the challenges of designing vocational skills training during a pandemic, Helen Taylor (Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Law School) discusses the skill of staying positive in challenging situations:

In the Christmas break, I caught up with a film I had not seen in a long time…Point Break. Keanu Reeves as Johnny Utah (cool name!) an FBI agent working undercover in a surfers’ group discovering his own values are challenged. Ben Sharp (played by John C.McGinley) is Johnny’s boss. In the scene where Sharp and Utah meet on Utah’s first day in the job, Sharp explains with alacrity how Utah (fresh out of Quantico) knows nothing and has no field experience. Of course, if you have watched the film, Utah gets a lot of field (and beach!) experience.

And it is with that idea of a “strong personality” in the workplace, that led me to reflect on how we have tried to equip our students with the skill to deal with such personalities.

The final year skills module is designed to help students transition from study to a graduate position. Part of the design uses reflection on functional skills obtained to evaluate the merit of study in order to progress to further study or employment.

Using a skills audit we ask our students to rate a number of skills. Included within this is a skill entitled “Articulating professional identity”. This is described in part as “Staying positive in challenging situations “.

Staying positive in challenging situations in the light of the global pandemic is not something I had planned on teaching but the strategy for dealing with challenges certainly fits within that framework and gave me the chance to discuss with students how a person’s values came into play during this time.

There were numerous examples to discuss with students (not based on Johnny Utah!)– from critical workers not having enough PPE to the A level students challenging their grades. There were also my own experiences of dealing with panic buyers, friends pressuring me to meet up and the fear of challenging groups who did not appear to be complying with social distancing rules.

Linked to the concept of professional identity, ethics and personal values, a scenario explaining a challenging situation was created. As part of the exploration of the scenario many students realised as a more junior employee in an organisation, their ability to speak out in accordance with their values may be difficult. The staying positive part came from the discussion of the Giving Voice To Values methodology.1 I was lucky (and extremely grateful) to have had the input of my colleagues (Professor Jane Jarman and Visiting Professor Liz Curran) when devising the materials used.

The Giving Voice to Values methodology is a positive step in that it is a technique that can be used by students when facing workplace challenges. Devised by Mary Gentile, the approach enables students to assess a situation and practice a narrative for dealing with the issues. Mary Gentile’s research shows that this type of practice creates a “muscle memory” when dealing with other difficult situations in the future.

And whilst the students might not become FBI agents like Johnny Utah, I hope they can deal with the challenges employment can throw at them.

1 Gentile, M., Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right, Yale University Press

Jane Ching, Professor of Professional Legal Education at Nottingham Law School and Director of the Centre for Legal Education, with an update on CLECON 2020:

On 11th December we held a follow up from our successful online conference in June 2020 on Impact and Wellbeing. Doing so online, with our new-found confidence in online meetings, would not have occurred to us only a year ago. Now, however, it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up on ongoing projects and share experiences of university life in the new normal. Braving wifi connections and time zones, we had participants from Australia, India, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the USA sharing and supporting each other. Special shout out to our keynote speaker, Dr Liz Curran, now safely returned to Australia.

Our 2020 conference was long in the planning, and we were devastated in the spring of 2020 when it became obvious that a face to face event was not going to be possible.  By then, however, we had gathered together a fascinating group of papers and participants from around the world.  So, with the support of the school and our supporters, we reconvened on a more intimate basis, with papers delivered in shorter morning and afternoon sessions across the week of 22nd to 26th June 2020.  Despite the challenges, discussion was vigorous and ongoing links have been made.

Opening and closing remarks were given by Associate Professor Graham Ferris and Associate Professor Jane Jarman, and an inspiring keynote on Measuring Impact through Research into Access to Justice Service Delivery and Legal Education Initiatives was delivered by Dr Liz Curran of Australian National University.

UK participants came from Nottingham Law School and from NTU’s School of Social Sciences as well as Birmingham, Hertfordshire, Leeds, OU and Sheffield. International participants – often braving differences in time zones to join us – represented Australia, Egypt, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the USA.  Our group included people at all stages of their careers, and with interests in both academic and vocational education.

It was clear that both impact and wellbeing are concerns across the globe in legal education, and that people are pushing forward in their practice in both making and measuring impact and in incorporating wellbeing into the curriculum and communal life of law schools.  The challenges vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the drive to improve is shared, as is an urgent concern with the consequences of heavier reliance upon information technology for educational delivery.

Impact is of course a quality assessed in the UK’s REF, but as was clear from Liz Curran’s keynote that it is far more.  It is an aspiration, and can best be both achieved and measured if research is collaborative, engaging with community research partners from the stage of design, through the research investigation and beyond into the qualitative and quantitative assessment of the effects of the research.  There is impact inside and outside the academy and impact through research and through legal education.

The impact of legal education is where the role of impact and the role of welling connect.  Incorporating a concern with wellbeing in the curriculum, whether through attention to “soft skills” or collaborative inquiry, or experiential learning, or through building relationships was one theme.  A second was incorporation of what is known about activities and attitudes and wellbeing into legal education which has sometimes been characterised by an unhealthy individual competitiveness and instrumentalism. However, it was recognised that many of the pressures facing our students are generated outside the academy.

Thus, the concern with wellbeing joined once more the concern with impact both inside and, crucially, outside the academy.  As legal educators we are preparing our students for a life beyond the university.  As legal researchers, we are trying to make sure that world is one that is fit to receive them.

Taher Abouleid: The Impact of Legal Education on the Legal Profession in Egypt

Gabor Andrasi: Expected but not taught? Teaching management at law schools in Hungary and the U.S.

Peter Benbow and Richard Machin: Promoting wellbeing through social work legal education

Jane Ching: Aligning the agenda, the investigatory model and the impact in legal education reviews

Liz Curran (Keynote): Measuring Impact through Research into Access to Justice Service Delivery and Legal Education Initiatives

Carol Edwards and Liz Hardie: The Challenges and Rewards of Setting up a Mentoring Programme in the Virtual Environment

Graham Ferris: Does legal education build or degrade resilience?

Neal Geach and Claudia Carr: The Wellbeing of University Law Students and Staff

Hossam Hassan: The Role of Legal Clinics in Legal Education’s Development in Egypt: the model from Mansoura Law School

Emma Jones: Commonalities and commodities: Reflections on developing a wellbeing resource for legal professionals

Rachael O’Connor: Lawyer Identity and Personal Wellbeing 

Geo Quinot: Legal Education in Community: collaborative legal education, an ethic and pedagogy of care and Ubuntu

M.S. Sharmila: Towards an Integrated Legal Education: a conscious way of strengthening the well being of lawyers and law students in India 

Helena Stoop: The use of Blended Learning to Support Student Wellness: experiences teaching Company Law at the University of Cape Town

Following our post in March, we thought long and hard, but finally came up with a way of allowing all those who had worked hard on the event to participate.  Using a series of Microsoft Teams events, spread across this week, we were able to hear from most of the people who had submitted abstracts, as well as engage in vigorous discussion both orally and through the “chat” function.  We are also indebted to our keynote speaker, Dr Liz Curran, and to all the speakers and other participants.  As we normally then share at least some elements of our conferences on this website, working out how best to do that will be our next challenge.  Stand by!

Online programme and abstracts 18062020

We have a really exciting set of panels and papers for the conference scheduled for 19th-20th June here in Nottingham, with contributions from many parts of the world.  We are delighted to have Rachel Spearing, co-founder and chair of the Wellbeing at the Bar project as one of our keynote speakers and Dr Liz Curran, of Australian National University, as the other.

Draft programme and abstracts 11032020

Places can be booked here.   We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will keep you informed about any effect on the conference.  We are at present investigating possible ways of using IT to allow those who cannot travel to participate remotely.  Please contact us at CLEConference2020@ntu.ac.uk if you have any queries.

 

In 2015, a special edition of the Nottingham Law Journal celebrated the outputs of our 2014 international conference, Value of Legal Education.

We are delighted to continue this tradition in the newly published Volume 27(2).  This is guest edited by Pamela Henderson and our Visiting Professor, Pat Leighton, provided the editorial. Contributions from the UK, Ireland, Australia and the USA drew on our 2015 and 2017 international conferences, Access to Justice and Legal Education and Legal Education, Legal Practice and Technology.

Simao Paxi-Cato and Yvonne McDermott set the ball rolling with Simao’s stirring keynote speech from 2015 on the links between legal education and access to justice for the disadvantaged.  Liz Heffernan, Jennifer Spreng, NLS Visiting Senior Fellow Liz Curran and Jenny Gibbons then provide a fascinating range of insights into those links across four different jurisdictions.

From the technology perspective, Ann Thanaraj considers how law schools can prepare students to work in an increasingly technological environment and Jenny Kemp considers how linguistic corpora can be used to enhance law students’ learning.

A link to this edition is available here: https://www4.ntu.ac.uk/nls/document_uploads/nlj-vol-27-2-2018.pdf

Look out for announcements about our next international conference, scheduled for summer 2020.  With the REF in our sights, we will be focussing on the different kinds of “impact” legal education and research into it can have.

 

Building collaborations locally -Applying a health justice partnerships model to law clinics (20th June)

This facilitated discussion by Dr Liz Curran of Australian National University will take place from 14.30 to 16.30 with post event informal discussion until 18.30.

The event will be of interest to those involved in clinical legal education but also to those in the advice, health and justice sectors.  Dr Curran will lead dialogue around the concept of multidisciplinary clinics to enhance student learning and to reach the socially excluded who trust community workers by allowing them to access legal advice through the health sector.  The objective of the event is to advance and build relationships and identify some actions with a view to broadening and operationalising relationships and modes of clinic interventions that might be useful.

The event is hosted by the Centre for Legal Education at Nottingham Law School and is free to attend.  Light refreshments will be available.  Places are limited so the organisers would appreciate it if anyone who has booked but is later unable to attend advises them of this so that the place can be released.

 

 

Alternative ways to approach legal problem solving and disputes to the adversarial process to seek justice (25th June)

This facilitated discussion by Dr Liz Curran of Australian National University will take place from 14.30 to 16.30 with post event informal discussion until 18.30.

The event will be of interest to academics and practitioners in the justice and conflict resolution sectors and particularly in family and domestic violence support, as well as those with a particular interest in problem-solving and restorative justice. Dr Curran will lead dialogue around alternative approaches to lawyering, including therapeutic, problem solving courts; neighbourhood justice centres, conflict conferencing, round table dialogue and facilitation; inquisitorial. It will focus on family law and areas of law that intersect with family law problems,  such as care and protection of children, family violence, self-representation, poverty flowing from separation and abuse that often emerge.

The objective of the event is to bring together a range of academics, professionals and practitioners to look at alternative options given recent universal acknowledgement of the harms, costs and complex processes of the adversarial system.  New approaches will be shared by experts in academia and practitioners that might be less problematic and traumatic for participants in the process. e.g. family law, institutional abuse, family violence and so on

The event is jointly hosted by the Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families; and the Centre for Legal Education at Nottingham Law School and is free to attend.  Light refreshments will be available. Places are limited so the organisers would appreciate it if anyone who has booked but is later unable to attend advises them of this so that the place can be released.

 

New approaches to lawyering and the implications for legal education: equipping our students to meet the changing world (27th June)

This facilitated discussion by Dr Liz Curran of Australian National University will take place from 14.30 to 16.30 with post event informal discussion until 18.30.

The event will be of interest to students, academics, employers, regulators and professional bodies and careers advisors in the legal sector and in sectors where a legal background is an advantage. Dr Curran will encourage participants to share teaching experiences and innovations that meet the needs of students and move them into employability in the modern age.

The event is hosted by the Centre for Legal Education at Nottingham Law School and is free to attend.  Light refreshments will be available. Places are limited so the organisers would appreciate it if anyone who has booked but is later unable to attend advises them of this so that the place can be released.