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A collaborative model for learning and assessment of legal placements

By Judith McNamara


This paper will report on the evaluation of a new undergraduate legal workplace unit, LWB421 Learning in Professional Practice. LWB421 was developed in response to the QUT’s strategic planning and a growing view that work experience is essential to developing the skills that law graduates need in order to be effective legal practitioners (Stuckey, 2007). Work integrated learning provides a context for students to develop their skills, to see the link between theory and practice and support students in making the transition from university to practice (Shirley, 2006). The literature in Australian legal education has given little consideration to the design of legal internship subjects (as distinct from legal clinic programs). Accordingly the design of placement subjects needs to be carefully considered to ensure alignment of learning objectives, learning tasks and assessment. Legal placements offer students the opportunity to develop their professional skills in practice, reflect on their own learning and job performance and take responsibility for their career development and planning. This paper will examine the literature relating to the design of placement subjects, particularly in a legal context. It will propose a collaborative model to facilitate learning and assessment of legal work placement subjects. The basis of the model is a negotiated learning contract between the student, workplace supervisor and academic supervisor. Finally the paper will evaluate the model in the context of LWB421. The evaluation will be based on data from surveys of students and supervisors and focus group sessions

Topics: 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development, Legal education, work integrated learning, apprenticeship model, HERN, LJHERN
Year: 2009
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