Directions, day two: The Big Debate

by Paul Maharg on 04/06/2016

We have a panel of law deans, practitioners and students to discuss legal education — Chris Gane, Michael Hor, Geraint Howells, Mike McConville, Jeremy Dein, Icarus Ho Shing Chan, Brigitte Kiu, Patricia Lam, Siegfried Sin, Justice John L. Saundersand chaired by Richard Morris.  The debate is focused on ‘Navigating the (academic) law degree: are we reading the map upside down?’  Questions were given to the panel.  First up, ‘Are law schools ‘servants’ of the profession?’

I’m not a fan of this format.  I found it rather superficial, edutainment at best.  No research quoted, though The Australian was quoted to prove the problem of law student numbers in Australia.  Lots of opinions, little substantiation of them, apart from m’learned colleague Professor Jane Ching in the audience, who did cite the mind-boggling statistic (seized upon gratefully my members of the audience and the panel) that in England & Wales there are at least 18 routes into the profession.  Real research…  Mike was perceptive, commenting upon our responsibility as legal educators to assist navigation; Chris Gane good on regulation, regulators and how they affect legal education content and method; Mike McConville on diversity in the communities of HK, and how protection of those communities should be part of the mission of the law school.

Chris Gane’s comments made me think that instead of a bid debate about law schools and the professions, we needed a session on regulation and regulators, which for me was one of the key shadow issues of this debate, and indeed the whole conference.  not least because the Wu Review is currently underway in HK, and the Law Society of Hong Kong has so far not published the report commissioned on common entry examinations.  I’m currently writing on the issue of regulation across jurisdictions, and we need to be much more sophisticated (all of us) about our approaches to regulatory practice and conventions.

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