Creating and enabling opportunities for increased student participation in experience based learning in professional practice

McNamara, Judith, Cockburn, Tina L., & Shirley, Melinda J. (2009) Creating and enabling opportunities for increased student participation in experience based learning in professional practice. In Experience Based Learning Association Inaugural Conference, 7-9 December 2009, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney.

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This paper explores models for enabling increased participation in experience based learning in legal professional practice. Legal placements as part of “for-credit” units offer students the opportunity to develop their professional skills in practice, reflect on their learning and job performance and take responsibility for their career development and planning. In short, work integrated learning (WIL) in law supports students in making the transition from university to practice. Despite its importance, WIL has traditionally taken place in practical legal training courses (after graduation) rather than during undergraduate law courses. Undergraduate WIL in Australian law schools has generally been limited to legal clinics which require intensive academic supervision, partnerships with community legal organisations and government funding. This paper will propose two models of WIL for undergraduate law which may overcome many of the challenges to engaging in WIL in law (which are consistent with those identified generally by the WIL Report). The first is a virtual law placement in which students use technology to complete a real world project in a virtual workplace under the guidance of a workplace supervisor. The second enables students to complete placements in private legal firms, government legal offices, or community legal centres under the supervision of a legal practitioner. The units complement each other by a) creating and enabling placement opportunities for students who may not otherwise have been able to participate in work placement by reason of family responsibilities, financial constraints, visa restrictions, distance etc; and b) enabling students to capitalise on existing work experience. This paper will report on the pilot offering of the units in 2008, the evaluation of the models and changes implemented in 2009. It will conclude that this multi-pronged approach can be successful in creating opportunities for, and overcoming barriers to participation in experiential learning in legal professional practice.

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ID Code: 29491
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: HERN, Legal Education, Internships, Technology, Virtual placement, Work Integrated Learning
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Law not elsewhere classified (180199)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 05 Jan 2010 21:58
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2014 01:22

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