2020 Professional Legal Education Conference

Harmonising Legal Education: Aligning the Stages in Lifelong Learning for Lawyers

2 - 3 October, 2020 | Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia

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 actually 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. Potential presenters from all of these interest groups are invited to submit abstracts for papers on the theme of harmonising legal education generally, or upon the ways in which any of the following are addressed (or not addressed) by the various stages in lifelong learning for lawyers:

  • Practical legal skills training
  • Wellness and resilience
  • Ethics and professionalism
  • Serving the public good
  • New technologies
  • Internationalisation and globalisation
  • Diversification in legal services delivery

This conference will be hosted by the Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLE) and the Wellness Network for Law. The CPLE is a community of legal educators, researchers, practitioners and administrators who collaborate in defining, understanding and promoting best practice in the teaching of law. The work of the Centre has a particular emphasis upon the changing nature of professional legal education and training in the context of an internationalised, transformed and technology-enhanced legal services sector. The Wellness Network for Law is committed to addressing the high levels of psychological distress experienced in law and promoting wellness at law school, in the legal academy, and in the profession.