How can we SQEeze it all In? some challenges facing law schools in England and Wales

Waters, B. (2018) How can we SQEeze it all In? some challenges facing law schools in England and Wales. In: The Legal Education and Training Review: Where are we 5 Years On? Conference, 25th June 2018, Leeds Beckett University.

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The Qualifying Law Degree in England and Wales has required law students wishing to qualify as solicitors to demonstrate competence in the seven foundational subjects (through a range of variously flexible assessment methods) and Law schools have arguably been allowed a certain amount of latitude in the way the law degree is taught.

There has been space for a liberal education approach and the dissemination of the idea that the goal of a liberal law curriculum is not to ensure that students have acquired particular factual information, but rather, to allow them to understand the structures and values that pervade and underpin law as seen by Bradney (2003). Some law degrees have also included elements of socio-legalism, which arguably promotes the inclusion of a requirement to think critically, the facilitation of contextual knowledge acquisition, and the learning of what law ‘is all about’ and not just ‘what law is’. Other, perhaps more traditional law schools, have taught the law degree doctrinally, requiring law students to learn what the stated law is or, in other words, the black letter law and to understand the substantive law and associated legal principles. Educators in these institutions have often adopted the case law deconstruction and analysis method, which has often been delivered didactically.

This doctrinal approach has most commonly required law to be learnt by rote and is best exemplified by Graduate Diploma In Law (GDL) teaching. In some more enlightened law schools, a place has been found for a more practical or experiential legal education approach at undergraduate level, and sometimes for academic credit. Within these institutions not only has the acquisition of practical legal skills (including research methodology), been incorporated into the curriculum, but opportunities are provided for students to learn how to perform practical legal tasks such as drafting letters and documents, negotiating and interviewing. In some instances, such law schools have facilitated this knowledge acquisition process through students’ exposure to the world of ‘real law’ through clinical legal experience.

We now enter a ‘brave new world’ of training regulation for students seeking admission as solicitors. The current Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) proposals, now looking increasingly more like reality than not, present the academy with challenges as to how the undergraduate law degree will be delivered; what to teach, how to teach it and if the Solicitors Qualifying Examination Assessment Specification syllabus as currently presented is to be adopted, how to include it all.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: K Law
L Education > LA History of education > LA0173 Higher education
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Law, Criminal Justice and Computing
Depositing User: Mr Ben Waters
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2018 10:14
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2018 10:33

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00