Title: Developing programmes to help the transition to practice
Lead Presenter: Nigel Duncan
Session Abstract: Legal educators interested in social justice must recognise that our students’ careers often involve work in the commercial sector. The commercial sector has expanded prolifically, just as private client and legal aid work has diminished. Students’ attachment to ethical conduct may be challenged by expectations of conformity to profit-driven corporate behaviour, while a commitment to social justice could be affected by the imperatives of corporate decisions rather than effects on ordinary people. Attempting to promote compliance with national standards and attachment to professional ethical standards is a difficult burden to place on the shoulders of unprepared recruits. Corporate lawyers are sometimes under pressure to collude with, conceal or even participate in corrupt activities. We wish to explore ways in which legal educators can help to prepare students to meet the challenge of the power of money. Conventional learning methods can provide knowledge of relevant law and practice; case studies can give insight into the real situations likely to face new lawyers; role-play can develop interpersonal skills; clinical experience can further develop skills, and understanding of individual client’s needs. But to help students to acquire more targeted personal insight, we need to prepare them for the radically different issues posed by commercial clients, and a different balance of power as between lawyer and client, as well as the internal dynamics of commercial law firms. We propose a new multi-layered approach, incorporating other academic disciplines to aid insight, including workplace behavioural studies, economics, history and politics.
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