Innovation and Disruption: Exploring the Potential of Clinical Legal Education
AbstractIt’s a great privilege to deliver this year’s Susan Campbell Oration. I, like many others, had the pleasure of working with Sue on a range of activities. In 2007, Sue conducted a review of the La Trobe Law School Clinical program which was instrumental in helping ensure the program remained an integral aspect of the La Trobe University law course. I hope what I have to say honours Sue’s memory and her contributions to legal education and clinical legal education in particular2. My focus in this presentation is on how Australian clinical legal education responds to the various innovations and disruptions occurring in the legal arena. The scope and breadth of innovations is mindboggling. There are many predictions about what the future holds for the legal profession, from gloom and doom to utopia, and there is a growing body of literature discussing the implications for the legal profession and legal education. In reality, it is impossible to envisage what the legal world will look like in ten years let alone thirty and that poses a real challenge for those involved in legal education, including clinical legal education. How best to prepare today’s students for the unknown future? Given that I have no expertise in digital technology and am certainly not a futurologist my comments relate to those areas about which I have some background: access to justice, social security and clinical legal education. I briefly outline the variety and scope of innovations occurring in the legal world, discuss two related aspects namely access to justice and government decision making, using the example of Robodebt, and then examine the potential for clinical legal education in these disruptive times. I argue that clinical legal education is well placed to take a more central role in Australian law schools and the training of 21st century legal workers.
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