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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 34 No 1 (2016) Law and Love

Essay: Unmet Needs for Legal Services in Australia: Ten Commandments for Australian Law Schools

Michael Kirby AC CMG is the Editor-in-Chief of The Laws of Australia (2009-present). He was a Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009); President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal (1984-1996); Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975-1984).

After outlining some strengths and failings of the law in Australia in meeting individual and community needs for legal services, the author explains why the recent over-supply of law graduates is unlikely to cure the shortfall in services. He proposes ten ‘commandments’ for Australian law schools, namely to:

1. Assure a more diverse intake;
2. Attend to vulnerable students, so that they survive their studies;
3. Address particular subjects of poverty law;
4. Encourage engagement by future lawyers with civil society;
5. Promote involvement with all forms of legal aid;
6. Acknowledge the importance of the law on costs;
7. Enhance access to law through new technology;
8. Establish miscarriage of justice and innocence clinics;
9. Undertake reliable empirical research and law reform projects; and
10. Consider basic lessons to be derived from foreign legal systems.

Legal academics, he concludes, have a special duty to critique their discipline and to provide a sense of engagement among lawyers (starting with law students) with the values of the laws they help to implement.

(2016) 34(1) Law in Context p115

   
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