Legal Education, again

UCC Legal Education Symposium.

The Faculty of Law, University College Cork hosted the second annual Legal Education Symposium on Friday 7 December last (I blogged about it here and here). Now comes news that the video of the event has just been made available here. Last week, I mentioned that Daithí had pointed out (in a post I wished I’d written) that the UCC Law Faculty is very much to the forefront in online law matters, and making video of their events available online is just one example of their leadership in this important area.

Bonus link no 1: If you scroll to near the bottom of the video page, you will find an older video of me discussing the (benighted) Defamation Bill (not yet enacted, but on its way through the Seanad for the second time, and I hold out hope that the long wait will soon – well, soonish, but finally and eventually – be over!).

Bonus link no 2: There is an important debate right now in the US blogs about the importance of interdisciplinary legal scholarship. Important contributions are here (most recent at the time of writing of this post), here (excellent roundup with links), here (a common sense contribution with which I mostly agree, for many of these reasons) and here & here (the posts that sparked this round of commentary). The basic question of how much the legal academy should in principle focus on preparing students for practice as against more abstract legal issues driven by research agendas often turning on interdisciplinary approaches is a universal one, as important in Ireland as it is in the US, which makes this debate so fascinating. Of course, the relationship between the academy and the legal profession, and the mission of the law school in the university, will differ in their detail between the two jurisdictions, but the principles are sufficiently similar to make the debate very relevant indeed. My own tuppence-worth? We need both approaches – on the one hand, law schools must recognise the reality that many of our graduates go on to practice (this is more true in the US than in Ireland), and take this into account in constructing syllabi; on the other hand, the legal profession must recognise that there is more to a university law school than simply vocational training for practice, and that university research and research-driven – often interdisciplinary – teaching are valuable not merely instrumentally as providing potential tools in the toolkit of the practitioner but also in their own right. The problem is not so much in stating this balance as recognising it and striking it, and the US discussion provides an insight into how a jurisdiction which has recognised this issue is actively and openly reflecting on the best way to strike just such a balance.