Reviewing everything…?

Yet another long gap since the last post, so I thought I might as well make the reason why the subject of this post!

The word review seems barely to have left my vocabulary for the last four years. Having ‘escaped’ to Aus post-LETR, I have got involved in a number of other smaller (thankfully) review processes. The largest of these is, of course, the ongoing Comprehensive Review of Legal Education and Training in Hong Kong, which Professor ATH (Tony) Smith and I are undertaking with, and under the excellent chairmanship of, Judge KH Woo. We are currently working on our draft report, so I obviously cannot say much about it, other than to note the extent to which the issue of standardisation of assessment, has, in the wake of the Hong Kong Law Society’s decision to press ahead with a ‘common entrance examination’ to the profession, taken centre stage. The parallels with the recent consultation on centralised assessment by the SRA in England and Wales are obvious, and we are looking at the SRA consultation in terms of the arguments and lessons that may be learned.

At a more local level I’ve also been involved in two other continuing processes: the validation of the ANU’s new online JD program. as well as working with colleagues at Melbourne on our own internal curriculum review of our JD. (No real risk of conflict of interest here as Melbourne currently has no particular interest in joining the JD online movement). The online trend in Australia is itself interesting, and much further advanced than in the UK. By my reckoning ANU is the sixth Australian university to launch an online JD, but the first from the Go8 research intensives. It draws heavily on the experience of online delivery built-up by the ANU Legal Workshop, and as one might expect, a few of Paul Maharg’s fingerprints are evident in the design of a quite innovative curriculum design. The Melbourne work has been challenging, and a good reminder of how much curriculum change is like trying to turn a supertanker – much easier to start with a blank sheet of paper! We have shared some ideas in draft with the faculty – the most radical of which is the possibility of combining our existing Dispute Resolution and Legal Ethics courses into a transactional ‘lawyering’ course using blended learning to facilitate the transactional element. The idea is still very much on the drawing board; we need to assess its feasability – both regulatory and in terms of deliverables – but it’s an exciting conversation to be in.