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The changing nature of legal education

Leading law school academic discusses the transformation of the legal industry.

With traditional law services undergoing a quiet revolution, Deakin Law School (DLS) academic Dr Jason Taliadoros predicts a transformed legal landscape within the next five years.

Dr Taliadoros is Director of Teaching and Learning with DLS and features in the 2 Nov edition (with video content) of The Australian’s Legal Review where he discusses the changing nature of legal education.

‘We are entering quite a different phase in the legal space, both in legal practice and law schools. Some of the drivers for change are information technology, changes to the profession, the liberalisation of the profession and also changes in market forces demanding more service for less money,’ he explains.

Responding to the changing legal landscape, DLS is ‘thinking differently’ about the types of courses offered, he says, which includes a recently-introduced new cyber-security law unit. 

‘It’s both a unit within our law degree and we also have a combined course with the science faculty — a combined degree in law and cyber security. Big Data is a massive tool that law schools and legal practices can use going forward — the advantage it gives us in terms of mining information, and analysing information. But also the threat that is poses for inadvertent disclosure of information that’s not appropriate to be out in the public domain.’

By offering more than discipline-specific content, he explains that DLS focuses on broader graduate skills that include digital literacy and the ability to analyse information and problem solve.

‘There needs to be less focus on mono types of training. We need to cross-train our graduates. They need to come out with the ability, not just in law, and attributes not just in law, but also the ability to project-manage and manage information … we are aware that we’re just a small part of this great blue planet and our graduates need to have an awareness of the bigger picture.’

Dr Taliadoros says DLS boasts several advantages including being smaller than some law schools, sitting within a faculty of business and law, and also being led by a dean who is a partner in technology-focused law firm.

‘We are a bit more nimble in the sense that we are responding to business contexts [which] are clearly driven by some of the technological changes that are taking place and are pushing law and law firms to follow some of these trends.’

While the traditional skills of a lawyer will always be needed, he says the lawyer of the future will need a much wider range of capabilities.

‘There is going to be more templating, systemisation, commoditisation of legal practice, and that’s going to require different skills — more entrepreneurial skills, more business-type skills, more management-type of skills.’

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