This year, summer ended and term began with the Legal Education Symposium hosted today by the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin in association with Dillon Eustace, Solicitors. I have spent all of September working on this. I blame Daithí, who – to be fair – has also spent all of September working on it too.
This was something we both felt had to happen. In Ireland today, university education in general and university legal education in particular are at a crossroads (both North and South), and we felt that it was important to provide a forum for debate on these issues. Hence a one-day symposium on Education, Teaching, Learning and Research in the Irish Legal Academy. Over 100 people attended, but you will have to ask them whether they thought it was a success. Ewa certainly thought so, but then she would say that, wouldn’t she?
I am very proud of the day – I think Daithí is too, and I think he is entitled to be. There was much more to it than the usual structure of a legal conference: the mixture of plenary and workshop sessions, the poster exhibition, the e-cluster (my particular favourite), the widely varied backgrounds of the contributors from the worlds not only of law, but also economics, education and technology, the rapporteur session, and the audio downloads.
Although I spent most of the day running around, I still caught my breath sufficiently on occasion to take in some of the attractions, and, for me, the highlights of the day included a punchy and controversial keynote by Prof. Ferdinand von Prondzynski, President of Dublin City University and a deeply thoughtful reply by Prof Gerard Quinn of NUI Galway; the plenary session on professional legal education; the legal research workshop; and the witty and thoughtful summary by rapporteur Prof Steve Hedley of UCC. Audio recordings of most of the main speeches are available here, and there will be photos soon.
It was all great fun; but terribly hard work – though worth it, because many crucially important debates were begun or continued, though perhaps not resolved. I won’t do it again, but I do hope it happens again next year: UCC and UCD have expressed an interest in hosting it next year and the year after. If they do, I’ll get to attend and enjoy without the stress of running around!