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Practice-Centric Legal Teaching

About

Practice-centric courses are designed to build towards and reflect contemporary legal practice. Through your degree these courses will provide you with a combination of theoretical knowledge and basic skills for practice. Practice-centric teaching uses skills based assessments such as simulated firm work, leadership and collaboration, advocacy, negotiation, letter writing.

The embedding of practice-centric units into the UTAS LLB are part of the Law School's commitment to legal education reforms which recognise the need to embed skills teaching throughout your education pathway, so that you're better prepared for professional life upon graduation.

The Law Faculty is committed to practice-centric teaching and has embedded skills-based, experiential teaching and learning into core units through the degree (i.e. Foundations of Public Law LAW253, Constitutional Law LAW250, Civil Procedure LAW451) and through the clinical legal education electives.

The practice-centric stream prepares students for the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the Centre for Legal Studies where an advanced model is used to train students for admission to legal practice.

Why practice-centric learning?

There is a general consensus amongst peak bodies that theory-centric (lecture/tutorial/essay/exam) teaching does not, of itself, adequately equip law students with the necessary skills, 'professional identity', or critical engagement with theory and practice necessary to prepare them for professional life.[1] Those standards commit law schools to, inter alia, foster: "active participation" in legal problem solving [CALD 2.2]; contextual application of legal skills[1] to practical legal situations (including ethical conduct and professional responsibility) [CALD 2.3.2]; instruction and practice in oral and written advocacy [CALD 2.3.3]; and direct engagement with the legal profession [CALD 9.2].

The UTAS practice-centric model is a direct response to these teaching standards. It was designed over a five year process with support from the Faculty of Law, Tasmanian Institute of Learning & Teaching and Law Foundation of Tasmania. A range of lawyers, barristers and judges have contributed to the process. Continual support and feedback from law graduates and the profession has ensured the continuation and refinement of the stream ensuring UTAS graduates are well-rounded, resilient and sought after legal professionals.


[1] Legal skills include 'critical thinking, communication and interpersonal skills, lifelong learning, independence, ethics, professionalism and leadership" Davis et al Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Learning and Teaching in the Discipline of Law: Achieving and Sustaining Excellence in a Changed and Changing Environment Australian Learning & Teaching Council, Council of Australian Law Deans (CALD), Report Finalisation: 2009, 54.

[2] These included reflection, group and teamwork, communication and interpersonal skills, lifelong learning, independence, ethics and professionalism and leadership. CALD Report, note 2.

How will I study, learn and be assessed in practice-centric units?

Different practice-centric units in your degree will utilise different skills based teaching and assessment. However all are modular (case-based), placing real or hypothetical cases at the centre of teaching and learning. Your assessments will be in a form reflective of the work you will undertake in legal and professional life, and may include:

  • Professional legal communications, advice and letter writing;
  • Practice based legal research;
  • Written and oral advocacy (in the Law School's embedded moot court)
  • Negotiation, arbitration and dispute resolution; and
  • Collaborative firm (group) work.

In other words you will be learning how to be a real lawyer, by engaging in real legal activities as you study the core subjects of your degree. Teaching research indicates that this is one of the best ways to prepare and equip you for legal practice while providing you with grounding in the relevant topic of law you are studying. It is also an exciting and engaging way to study that provides you with an active understanding of what it is like to work in the profession you have chosen.

Where can I find guidance on practice-centric learning?

As each practice-centric unit focuses on different skills and knowledge you will generally find instructions relevant to that unit on the unit's MyLo page and in the Unit Outline. However, some general guides relevant to all practice units can be found below: