Shameless plug alert…  I’m organising the next workshop in the SLS legal education workshops series, called ‘Simulated Clients: A workshop on interdisciplinary learning and teaching in legal education’.  Friday 2 June, 0950-1600, in the Common Room of the Atkin Building, City Law School, City University, London.   Here’s the flyer, and an extract from it:

The [used of simulated clients] challenges many aspects of our current theory and practice in legal education, including the following:

  1. Curriculum structures: the method leads us to re-design our conventional curriculum interventions.
  2. Ethics of the client encounter
  3. The cognitive poverty of much of conventional law school assessment
  4. Law school as a self-regarding, monolithic construct
  5. Law school categories of employment
  6. The curricular isolation of clinic within law schools
  7. Hollowed-out skills rhetoric
  8. Conventional forms of regulation by regulatory bodies
  9. The role of regulator, less as monitor/accreditor and more as encourager of innovation & reform.
  10. Disciplinary boundaries – SCs and educators can learn much from other interdisciplinary practices
  11. SCs reflect local jurisdictional practices – how might such a project work, globally?

This workshop will give you the opportunity to hear from a distinguished medical educator who has worked in the field of simulation as well as examples of practice from a range of jurisdictions.  You will hear in detail the work of the Simulated Client Initiative (SCI), its global setting, and examples of SCs in use in a range of programmes.  You will learn how to set up a SC project in your institution, how SCs interact with students, novice lawyers and can be used for lawyers’ continuous professional development, and how they can be used to develop a range of legal skills.  You’ll learn how to sustain a community of SCs in your law school, how to create a research agenda around the heuristic, and much else.

We can accommodate around 30-35 participants.  You can register here, and resources will be put up on a revived Simulated Client Initiative WordPress site in the next month.  If there are many more registrants than 35, we’ll hold it again later in the year.  I’ll be live blogging it on the day; and I’m also organising a sister event in ANU later in the year, possibly one later again, in Toronto.

Hope to see you in London!



Post-lunch, Scott Slorach presented two projects.  Project 1: York Pedagogy, a project on programme level outcomes, to be aligned with YLS curriculum refresh.  Scott in interested in Advanced PBL Case Studies: increased complexity of facts, issues and law, and the use of PBL ‘outputs as a stepping stone.  This would be an option as against a normal academic dissertation.  He also wanted to see more personalisation of the curriculum and its assessment, and he wanted to see Year 3 as a more unique flourishing in learning.  The learning cycle:

initial analysis of scenario > develop learning outcomes > interim period .full scenario analysis (in firms) > students submit individual analysis > perspectives and outputs.

The first three above are collaborative, the following two in the cycle are individualised outputs.

Outputs & project proposals – peer review > surgery > peer review of one output > conference: present one output for feedback > submit final versions of all outputs.

I like this model a lot — it’s a compulsory but very flexible .  It builds upon year 1 & 2 PBL cycles, will take around 3 weeks for a cycle and the close attention given to detail is so typical of Scott’s great design work.  He gave us examples of outputs:

  • opinion
  • essay
  • article
  • advice note
  • position paper
  • presentation
  • case analysis
  • annotated contract
  • legal document, eg statement of claim

Project 2 is a Professional Practice Masters, where PBL is developed for Masters level.  There will be a student law firm, max 6, with a single tutor who is facilitator, giving feedback, and a mentor.  There are professional working practices and standards with organised, archived communications.  There is personal development, teamwork and reflection, and support and feedback from the tutor throughout the programme.  In the final term there is an independent learning project on a chosen area of practice.

Scott gave examples of static modules transformed into a transactional model of learning, with the static outcomes embedded into forms of legal action in the world (draft this, do that).  See the model here, with the static modules on the left and the tasks on the right, referenced to the modules by the coloured blobs:

Evidence would be required throughout:

Very impressive projects, and shows the depth of thinking York is undertaking on the subjects.  As Scott said, there’s no reason why the Masters should not be a replacement for the LPC, for it actually goes well beyond it.  Indeed I don’t see why it can’t be tweaked to do much of what SQE Part 2 will (in its current form, which will no doubt undergo further change) ask of candidates, based upon the QLTS model of assessment of skills.

There was a further interactive session that wound up the day.  I have to say I really enjoyed the workshop.  We had a variety of sessions, lots of interesting experiential evidence, lots of research, eg from Herco, and the opportunity to explore the depth and varieties of PBL.  In the wrap-up Scott asked us what we wanted him to take forward from the session, and I said that we all needed an online space to store all the fine resources and approaches we’d discussed in the workshop.  In better times UKCLE provided that function, and there’s been nothing that has remotely stepped into that place.  Now, alas, it’s an archive site.  We argued in LETR for such a space, but the front-line regulators ignored our recommendation (Rec. 25).  As a body of academics, we urgently need to organise ourselves.  Who is interested in joining me?


At last year’s SLS conference in St Catherine’s College, Oxford Caroline Strevens (Legal Education section convenor) and I discussed having a number of workshops on innovative topics in legal education that bridged the gap between one conference and the next.  Nigel Duncan joined us, then Scott Slorach, and before we knew it, we had a number of workshops planned – wellbeing in legal education, problem-based learning, and simulated clients.  Nigel has co-organised and hosted the first and is hosting the third at his centre in City University Law School, which is also hosted with PEARL.  Scott is hosting the PBL session, today, here at York – the natural home of PBL in English legal education.  I’m speaking on our innovative online PBL JD in Australian law, at ANU, and I’ll be trying to liveblog the day as well.

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BILETA 2017 final thoughts: the redress of legal education

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CLEA, day 2 session 1

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