The Future of Australian Legal Education conference was successfully co-hosted by The Australian Law Journal and the Australian Academy of Law, on 11-13 August at the Federal Court of Australia, Sydney.
Opened by the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, the Hon James Allsop AO, the conference was a collaborative event to celebrate the 90th anniversary of The Australian Law Journal, the 10th anniversary of the Australian Academy of Law, and marked 30 years since the release of the Pearce Report on Australian law schools. The aim was to provide a national forum for the entire legal profession to come together and discuss formally the future of legal education. It’s the first such conference since 1977.
An impressive lineup of more than 50 high profile speakers provided informative and challenging presentations on major themes, including:
- What every lawyer should know
- Digital technology and its impact on teaching, learning and legal practice
- New skills and essential knowledge for lawyers
- Making connections: law interacting across disciplines and international borders.
Professor Martha C. Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago Law School delivered the keynote presentation on ‘Why Lawyers Need a Broader Education’, which outlined the value of critical and socially aware lawyers.
The conference included a welcome reception at Allens opened by the Hon Justice Francois Kunc (General Editor, ALJ) and the Hon Kevin Lindgren (President of AAL). A gala dinner was hosted at NSW Parliament House where guest speaker the Hon Justice Virginia Bell AC of the High Court Australia presented an uplifting and entertaining speech on her experience as a young lawyer studying in Queensland.
The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG chaired the final plenary session. Some highlights of his session were:
- A plea from the president of the Australian Law Students Association, Dan Trevanion, that stakeholders ask students what they expect from their legal education; and
- The chairman of the Council of Australian Law Deans, Professor William MacNeil, leading the entire audience in an uplifting group chant of “I-love-the-law”
The conference was well received by more than 160 delegates including our leading authors, customers and stakeholders with positive discussion and rigorous debate during the sessions. There was a genuine desire to collaborate further to help prepare new lawyers for the challenges of the law, the workforce and society.