Professional Legal Education Reviews: Too Many “What”s, Too Few “How”s.
Former colonies of the British Empire, Hong Kong and Australia inherited the common law system and the basic structure of legal education and training from England and Wales and remain the closest siblings in terms of proximity in distance and the high degree of similarity between their respective frameworks for legal education and training. This article first summarizes the major reviews of legal education and training in these three jurisdictions: England and Wales, Australia and Hong Kong over the last four decades and argues that while these reviews are keen on investigating ‘what’ is lacking in the curriculum and ‘what’ needs to be changed to equip graduates for the challenges of the day, they do not seem to have shown the same level of enthusiasm in identifying ‘how’ the intended outcomes prescribed can be achieved. Nevertheless, law schools in these jurisdictions recently began to tap on, and combine with the improved classroom pedagogy, clinical legal education and internship, innovative teaching tools and solutions in an attempt to deliver more enhanced learning experience to students. The article examines the role ascribed to technology in legal education and training with a particular reference to SimPLE, a e-learning platform developed in England and Wales which has been put to use in Australia as well, and the reform initiatives taken, and planned to be taken, by the Department of Professional Legal Education at the University of Hong Kong in its Postgraduate Certificate in Laws programme. This article concludes by pointing out the importance of collaboration among stakeholders including teachers, university administration and the legal profession in effecting a more active role of technology in legal education and training of today.