This week, a new publication from members of the Smart Casual team has been published in the Griffith Law Review. A limited number of free downloads of the paper are available here.
Contemporary higher education, including legal education, incorporates complexities that were not identified even a decade ago. Law programs first moved from traditional content-focussed programs toward incorporating critique and legal skills. Many are now working toward recognising inclusion and student wellbeing as integral to law graduates’ professional identities and skillsets. Yet the professional dispositions law teachers require to teach in these environments are ostensibly at odds with traditional lawyering identities founded upon an ideal of rationality that actively disengaged from affect.
This article draws on our teaching experience and data drawn from the Smart Casual project, which designed self-directed professional development modules for sessional law teachers, to identify the limits of a traditional teaching skillset in the contemporary Australian tertiary law teaching context. We argue that contemporary legal education demands considerable emotional labour and we present sample contexts which highlight the challenges law teachers face in doing what is expected of them. The article makes explicit the emotional labour that has often been implicit or unrecognised in the role of legal academics in general, and in particular, in the role of sessional legal academics.
What is Smart Casual all about?
For a short and sweet introduction, check out this overview of the Smart Casual project. It covers the needs that we set out to address, our approach to working with the diversity of Australian law schools, and the suite of Smart Casual professional development modules – all on a single page! You can download the Smart Casual overview here (2MB PDF).
Recognition of increased diversity within Australian legal education means law teachers have to respond to a broader variety of student needs, both at a macro level in admissions and curriculum planning and at a micro level through learning and teaching. Australian law schools have spent the last decade addressing the macro level rather than exploring the needs of the micro at which so much teaching takes place.
In creating professional development resources for sessional law staff in Australia, we have found a wide variety of approaches to proactively creating inclusive and welcoming law classes. Many have been contributed by sessional teachers who have agreed to be video recorded speaking about their high quality teaching for the Smart Casual modules.
From this work has emerged a paper which draws on Goffman’s ideas about how people engage in a ‘quiet sorting’ of others according to various attributes to outline strategies for creating and maintaining learning spaces that welcome and engage with diversity.
Having been presented earlier in the year, this paper is now available in Research and Development in Higher Education: The Shape of Higher Education Vol. 39 as Mark Israel, Natalie Skead, Anne Hewitt, Mary Heath, Kate Galloway, Alex Steel, Fostering ‘Quiet Inclusion’: Interaction and Diversity in the Australian Law Classroom. Presentation to Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference, Fremantle, Australia, 5 July 2016. It can also be found here.
I woke recently to a twitter feed filled with news from the International Legal Ethics Conference in New York. There were a few sessions that really interested me, and I captured the tweets in a series on Storify. (The final in this series of four.)
I recall when first starting in legal practice in 1990 the recognition by the profession that we were in fact a business. Not all accepted this of course. It’s interesting to see the debate continuing some two decades later. In terms of legal education, there are some interesting facets to this argument. How do we continue to teach ethics and professionalism if what we knew as a profession is now no more than a business? (I know that there will be some strong responses to this question…)
You can find this Storify here
I woke recently to a twitter feed filled with news from the International Legal Ethics Conference in New York. There were a few sessions that really interested me, and I captured the tweets in a series on Storify. (This is the third of four posts.)
As law teachers grapple with the nature and purpose of legal education, it is instructive to consider the diverse roles of the lawyer, including roles that may not have been available when we ourselves graduated. Now, with increasing opportunities for law student and graduate internships with international agencies, the role of lawyer in an international security crisis need not be the stuff of the imagination.
I was interested to see the ILEC twitter feed on this topic, highlighting the ethical and professional issues for lawyers in just these circumstances.
You can find this Storify here
In its pilot phase, the Smart Casual project produced, trialled and published three interactive professional development modules for professional teachers in law.
For full details of our successful pilot project, you can download our Final Report here (778KB PDF).