Future Ed: New Business Models for U.S. and Global Legal Education: Chris Kenny Keynote

by Paul Maharg on 15/10/2010

Keynote by CEO of the Legal Services Board.  Good to see him at this conference because, as David Wilkins pointed out in introducing him, his organisation is taking seriously the issues also facing the ABA.  More below the fold, adapted from his slides.

'A rollercoaster of a year', he said.  What's the Board got to do with legal education?  Section 4 of the LSA 2007 — the 'Board must assist'  – ie the role is facilitative, not regulative.  S.5 as well — encouraging an independent strong diverse & effective legal profession'.  He admitted not much has been done on this.  He reflected, therefore, on what the rest of the sessions in the morning were saying, and how it related to the work of LSB.  Ie education for what and for whom, by what means, crisis or opportunity — and what must not be jettisoned, in an age of change, at all costs?

Education was for, as he put it, a world of collapsing boundaries – globalising markets, in-house firms advisors, advisers/outsourcers, law and other professional services, etc.  He took the example of ownership of Liverpool football club as a topical example.  

Education for what…? More specialist, but more commoditised; more international, yet also more localised in some ways.  More ambitious & mobile, and perhaps less fixed on current partnership models. 

Education for whom…?  He showed  bar charts on ethnic and gender diversity, university admissions / called to the Bar to Partnership & QC, and the gap, unacceptably large in 1999, is closing but at an unacceptably slow rate.  He defined this as a challenge for educators as much as the rest of the profession.  Also infrastructure issues: length & cost of courses; expectations of employment, and put against this, employer concerns — skill level, relevance.  And for good measure he threw in the broader social need.  

Education by what means…? DL, web 2.0 and interaction with other disciplines, he noted, referring to yesterday's workshop.  He referred to Daniel Foote's presentation — getting the methods used (ie in Japan) was another and just as important issue.  He mentioned clinical and academic teaching continuums, and also the seamlessness of academic, vocational & CPD requirements.  Regulatory requirements on entities as well as individuals, and he also mentioned the  apprenticeship model and lifelong learning.  

Education — crisis or opportunity? He forecast a plurality of educational models for a more plural sector, differentiated by product, customer (studen & employer) access route, duration, pedagogy, partnerships, within and beyond academia.  

 So lots of change; but for him, the critical issue was professional ethics — when and how? applied or abstract?  He came down strongly on practical ethical approaches.  Not quite a Kohlbergian approach, but certainly moving towards experiential approaches to ethics.  Touchstones he sumamrised as conduct issues and ethics based around that, competence — its acquisition & retention, and the regulatory objectives which ought to be outcomes, not process.  So therefore what he was advocating was effective regulation that ensures review & delivery, outcome measures & evaluation, and mutual learning as well as competition — which involved mutual learning as well as competitive learning.  

He wound up by admitting that there were many questions, and answers were multiple.  And profession, industry, academia and regulators all have a role in getting to them. Good keynote, well-ptiched and well-received by the US audience.


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