I’ve been invited to the 3rd Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference, subtitled Accelerating Competency: Assessment in Legal Education, and being held in Denver, COL.  I’m live-blogging most of the event.  The conference is hosted by the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), who run a series of significant projects — one of which is Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers (ETL).  Opening day is composed of Show, Tell & Learn sessions, as unfolds below the fold.

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Dangerous research

by Paul Maharg on 16/09/2014

I’ve been catching up on and re-reading the recent regulatory literature coming from the ABA, now that I’m here in the USA and discussing experiential learning, assessment and much else with Roberto Corrada and his colleagues at Sturm Law School, University of Denver.  The ABA Task Force report & recommendations that came out earlier this year is fascinating, not least for how it is responding to the crises of legal education in the US — the positions it takes up, those it’s in the process of abandoning.  It should be required regulatory reading, in any common law jurisdiction.

It drew me to thinking about the research data that underpins legal educational policy formation.  In England and Wales (but not Scotland) the experiment in the marketization of HE  proceeds apace, as this THES article points out.   The article explores the links between higher status degrees and higher fees — effectively, the measurement of long-term graduate earnings correlated against institution attended and subject studied and (this is where our politicians sit up and take interest) an estimate for each institution of the proportion of loans never repaid by graduates.  When we researched the literature on recent changes to HE for LETR it was clear that this was one direction of research that just had to be explored, for it would enable finer-grained economic analysis of institutions as well as their students.

The line of research has been described in THES as ‘dangerous’.  It depends, though, who is interpreting the data and to what purpose, and the context of interpretation.  The data is really part of a hugely complex multi-factorial situation, and needs to be set beside other research, e.g. on the results of student choice, diversity and social mobility, well-being, institutional strategies and their effects and much else.  It would be interesting, for instance, to correlate the results of this research with market strategies adopted by universities to raise capital.

But good grief, how might this research be misrepresented politically and culturally, in pursuit of a relentlessly economic view of the good of HE?  Let me count the ways…  By contrast Andrew McGettigan’s excellent work (in articles, eg on how new forms of capital and constitution are changing higher education, and in his book The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education)  exposes how, in the bonds market, university league tables powerfully affect the perception of the market, and therefore the amount of capital that can be raised, and under what conditions; and revealing how high-status universities retain their power.  He points to the experiences  of Californian institutions in raising bonds, explores the link between bond issuance and higher fees, and offers interesting insights from the US for UK institutions, noting inter alia that while bonds may make life easier for universities, ‘they also liberate a generation of politicians from their traditional responsibilities.’  Who could disagree with that.

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Letter from America

by Paul Maharg on 16/09/2014

I’m in the US, by kind invitation of Roberto Corrada at Sturm College of Law, University of Denver and the IAALS conference, Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers.  More of this in my next posts.  But this post is about something else.  I was sorry to see the Guardian come out for the No campaign in its editorial last Saturday.  In truth, a Yes vote is the only way that Scotland will obtain any measure of political reform and electoral control over its own affairs.  The Guardian’s argument is flawed, and ignores the case behind the Yes campaign’s success to date, achieved in spite of massive negative campaigning from No.  I thought it might have taken a more measured and historical view of the debate, or it might have looked beyond Thursday’s vote to role that Scotland could play in the politics and political culture of rUK.

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Scottish independence: future historical counterfactuals

September 4, 2014

In my post on the Scottish independence debate I quoted the distinguished medieval historian Geoffrey Barrow’s words from his inaugural lecture when he was made Sir William Fraser Professor of Scottish History and Palaeography at Edinburgh U in 1980, entitled The Extinction of Scotland: Now and again a picture comes into my mind, a scene from the […]

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Independence declarations

July 15, 2014

There’s a new sub-genre of blog-posts appearing — the independence declarations of academics.  Some great ones out there — see Malcolm Combes and Peter Matthews — engaging, wide-ranging and better argued than my own effort.  Have you come across others?  Drop me a line in the comments if you have. What I love about being in […]

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ILEC 2014: Summary thoughts

July 15, 2014

My thanks to Nigel Duncan and Andy Boone for organising ILEC.  It’s a difficult conference to map out because it’s so wide-ranging in its remit.  That it succeeded is down not just to Nigel and Andy’s hard work and sensitivity in organising the sessions but to everyone’s willingness to be there and open their own […]

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ILEC 2014, Session 7

July 15, 2014

Third and final day of ILEC.  I’m attending a session on Ethics Culture.  First up, Marnie Prasad and Mary-Rose Russell, from Auckland University of Technology Law School, on the ‘Professional and ethical challenges for criminal lawyers in the changing environment of legal representation: a New Zealand perspective’.  They gave an engaging review of the structure […]

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ILEC 2014, Session 6

July 12, 2014

Session 5 – I was presenting, so no summary.  For once I just talked to a script, no slides, since I had about 12 mins.  Shamani Ragavan, Neil Gold and Nigel Duncan presented, while my colleague from ANU Liz Curran did a fine intro to & demo of a Giving Voice to Values mini-session that […]

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ILEC 20214, Session 4

July 11, 2014

Session 2 I was presenting on a version of The Wrong Story — slides on the Slides page, on the tab above.  Also on the panel were Victoria Rees, regulator, BC Canada, and Adrian Evans.  Had to take time to answer stuff coming in on email, but here we are at 4B, ‘Responding to the […]

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ILEC 2014, session 1

July 11, 2014

I’m at the ILEC 2014 at City U., London.  Just arrived, and at the first parallel session, choosing ‘The effect of technology on the regulation of lawyers in the US’.  John O. McGinnis & Russell Pearce on ‘The coming disruption of law: machine intelligence and lawyers – diminishing monopoly rules’.  ABA has made minor changes […]

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