Goldsmith, Andrew and Bamfor, David, 2010, The value of practice in legal education, in F. Cownie(ed), Stakeholders in The Law School, North America: Hart Publishing, 157-184.
COMPARED WITH A generation ago, Australian law students are spending more time working and engaged in extracurricular activities.2 Financial pressures, as well as employer expectations, are playing a major part in shaping the law student learning environment. Their significance as stakeholders in legal education has however, if anything, increased rather than diminished in this changing climate. A more instrumental approach towards university education is now apparent.3 The popularity of on-line lecture notes and intensively taught vacation topics has contributed to the declining attraction of traditional classroom-based education. Classes tend now also to be larger, with fewer staff per student. There is greater reliance placed upon casual teachers. Another factor however helps to explain the fading allure of traditional classroom-based legal education: many students enrolled in university law undergraduate degrees express a clear preference for practice-oriented opportunities within the curriculum and during the law school years, while demonstrating a growing impatience with conventional law school curricula and teaching methods. While students are expected to pay more for their legal education, and many are predictably concerned about getting jobs at the end of their university courses, they are being largely denied experiential and practically focused opportunities within the structure of the law curriculum, commensurate with the level of demand.4 These experiential educational forms of legal education, while widely regarded as resource-intensive and hence expensive to mount, have been linked to high levels of student motivation.