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Teaching Legal Ethics UK March 2016

Submitted by Nigel Duncan on Wed, 02-17-2016
Long title
Different learning approaches, Values and Wellbeing
Conference location
City Law School, 2 – 10, Princeton Street, London WC1R 4BH
United Kingdom
Sponsor organization(s) or institution(s)
City Law School Centre for the Study of Legal Professional Practice
Sponsor(s)' contact information
Nigel Duncan.
+44(0)7040 0352
City Law School,
4, Gray's Inn Place,
London WC1R 5DX, UK
Conference Description
This day will offer a diverse group of workshops developing issues that have arisen in this workshop series before. In the morning we will look at two very different approaches to learning delivery, both of which may become more significant to many law schools. We consider clinical work through a student law office and distance learning and the opportunities and challenges offered by each for developing ethical understanding and practice. In the afternoon our focus turns to values: a consideration of value-informed and instrumental justifications for teaching legal ethics using a Giving Voice to Values exercise; and an exploration of how recognising values in our teaching and learning can contribute to well-being.
Workshop details:
1. Introducing Ethical practices within Student Law Office: the function of the firm meeting.
In this workshop we will consider the role of the firm meeting as a method of encouraging students to think about the use of ethical practices when participating in activities prepared for and during firm meetings.
As a new Student Law Office tutor I am involved in preparing activities which are used to support the promotion of ethical understanding and practices through 1-2-1s with individual tutees but also within the larger firm environment. I explore the use of different activities which can be carried out to support the development of ethical awareness / and practices for students, in their preparation for meetings and the within the meeting itself.
During this workshop participants will be asked to consider
• Benefits and challenges of using firm meetings to develop ethical awareness in students
• Use of simulated client examples / real client examples within firms
• Encouraging the Ownership of the language and practice of ethics within the safe environment of the firm
• Opportunities to link with subject areas and congruence with teaching materials
This will provide opportunities for sharing of ideas and approaches which might be relevant to developing materials which can support simulated client activities, PBL and other teaching and learning opportunities.
Caroline Gibby
Lecturer in Law, Northumbria University
2. Distant Virtues: Legal Ethics in Distance Learning Education
Legalism has been described as an ethical viewpoint that is ‘the operative outlook of the legal profession: moral conduct is a matter of rule following, and moral relationships consist of duties and rights determined by rules.’ (McBarnet and Whelan 1991)
During this interactive workshop participants will:
• Consider whether virtue ethics can provide a suitable philosophical counterweight to legalism in the teaching of legal ethics
• Examine the particular challenges and opportunities presented by taking this approach in the distance and online learning settings
• Explore teaching strategies to meet these challenges and opportunities.
Hugh McFaul
Lecturer in Law, The Open University
3. On the how and why of value informed legal education”
Workshop activity based on Giving Voice To Values:
“When I did the right thing”
The exercise is taken from (in an adapted form) the leading work on facilitating effective ethical action as developed by the American business ethicist Mary Gentile. It has several factors that may make it effective – it builds relatedness, it uses narrative accounts to explore efficacy, it is student led, and it begins the important task of pre-scripting for ethical action.
However, the activity is not obviously related to legal subject matter and is only contingently related to legal professional ethics. Therefore, it poses an immediate problem of justification within the context of a crowded and contested curriculum.
Therefore, there will be a discussion of why such an activity, or similar activities, should feature in legal education. Graham has argued in his book (The Uses of Values in Legal Education) that value informed legal education should make room for such things as ethical efficacy.
Ethical efficacy can also be justified in instrumental terms (rather than value informed arguments) and If time permits a discussion on instrumental approaches and value informed approaches to curriculum and delivery of legal education will reflect on whether value informed justifications are better than instrumental ones in the domain of ethical education.
Graham Ferris
Reader in Law, Nottingham Law School
4. Can Lectures improve motivation and mood?
Can teaching and learning principles of psychological literacy impact wellbeing of law teachers and law students? Why are we discussing this in the context of teaching ethics? Is there any link between ethical lawyers and subjective wellbeing?
Academics have written about the need for law students and practitioners to manage their own wellbeing in order to maintain ethical practice. Anecdotally many law teachers have seen examples of plagiarism and poor scholarship and on interviewing those concerned have been told about poor time management and motivational issues or even high levels of stress and anxiety leading students to take short cuts.
Values are very important in terms of motivation and meaning. The teaching materials being demonstrated in this session have been developed in order to examine possible psychological wellbeing effects on both staff and students (if any) of informing the students of basic principles of positive psychology. This session is also informed by some data from the Law Teacher Perceptions of Wellbeing survey conducted last summer with financial support from LERN.
This will be a 90 minute interactive session wherein the audience can participate in and thereafter discuss a seminar on self determination theory and motivation.
Caroline Strevens
Head of Law, University of Portsmouth
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