Category Archives: Legal Education

Legal Practice Course Teachers: What Can Their Stories Tell Us (Willis J)

I read this 2010 paper today and strongly identified with the qualitative research compiled by Judith Willis from interviews with LPC tutors.

Although the paper focussed on the personal and professional stories of tutors, there were inevitably many points, questions, issues and opinions expressed about the student experience as a result of the tutors’ background and teaching. I noted one point in particular:

“The LPC aims to instil relevance into the learning process for the students. Barab
and Duffy examined the concept of communities of practice and identified that in fact
formal education, where it seeks to prepare students for work, more nearly resembles
“practice fields” in that they are not linked to society. They lack “authenticity” a
complaint echoed in the student responses to the Law Society study. They argue that Lave and Wenger’s “situated learning” takes place in society and a classroom can only
be a close approximation.”

I wouldn’t disagree with that except that I think we can bridge the gap between society and the classroom if we only stop teaching (or rather training) professional legal practice in isolation. Use of simulated clients for the training of practical legal skills for instance. Allowing trainees to develop skills in a realistic but safe environment which allows legitimate peripheral participation, advanced under supervision, until the learner becomes the expert.  As Willis says, “The LPC could be risking leaving students to sink or swim in the community of practice they enter.” Let’s not do that anymore.


My 5 legal profession/education predictions for 2016

Tomorrow sees the return to work for most of us and I thought it would be fun to set out a few predictions for 2016 and then review them next New Year’s Eve. So, here goes:

1. Further dissolution of the traditional legal professions

I think this is a fairly safe one to start off with. There’s no doubt in my mind that the repercussions of the Legal Services Act 2007 are still unfolding even 9 years later. Advances in technology and the innovative use of said technology has opened up new frontiers to explore. ABSs and inter-professional firms have not been fully exploited and yet we are stuck with the same definition of a ‘Solicitor’ and a ‘Barrister’. Even CILEx, who have purposely set out to capture as much of the legal services regulation market as possible have not redefined the role of a ‘Legal Executive’ although they have made a determined attempt to expand it to include ‘Paralegals’.

It’s only that term ‘Paralegal’ that defies definition. It is all encompassing and I think that is a good thing. I can see 2016 revealing a further dissolution of the traditional legal professions with the term ‘Lawyer’ or better still ‘Legal Service Provider’ being a holistic term covering a wide spectrum of new and innovative services and occupations. Who regulates those….well, that will be interesting!

2. Increase in CILEx membership

Tied into (1) above but a separate prediction in its own right. This year, 2016 will see the continued increase in CILEx membership as growing ranks of Paralegals flock to join the representative body partly for recognition, partly for representation and partly for regulation. Paralegals will choose to do this and get on with their professional careers rather than chase the pipe dream of someday qualifying as a Solicitor or Barrister. Until the SRA and BSB wake up to realising that their professions need to be redefined, both bodies will see a declining increase in membership.

3. Further development and integration of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in legal practice

This year will see the inevitable development and greater use of AI to provide quicker, more detailed, and more accurate analysis and risk assessment of data held by legal service providers. The human mind simply cannot compete at the speed of computers and neither should it. That is what the computer is there to do. Instead, AI should be embraced as a means of liberating the more mundane, elevating the human part of the equation to a strategic, communicative, and leadership role better suited to the niceties of dealing with other human beings (aka clients/consumers).

4. New roles (for humans) in legal services

Although the words in brackets are a bit tongue-in-cheek, they have a serious note. If we are to leave the more mundane to computers, if we are to embrace AI as I suggest, then how do we adapt? Well I think that the increased use of technology in the provision of legal services will lead to new roles for legal professionals, those roles being ‘Legal Technician’, ‘Legal Systems Developer/Manager’, Legal Database Manager’, ‘Legal Analyst’, ‘Risk Analysis’, etc. Legal professionals in 2016 will start to take an interest in the software development side of things since an understanding of what goes on “under the hood” is essential if you are to use the machine so to speak.

5.Announcement that Kaplan will be the sole assessor of the proposed Solicitors Qualifying Exam

I’ve saved the best, most outlandish prediction until last. Whilst everyone lamented the exit of Kaplan from the LPC provider market, it was a canny bit of business actually. They knew that that market was disrupted, was shrinking, that they could not compete with the larger providers. So, they made a strategic retreat, have taken the opportunity to regroup, and will I think place themselves in an ideal position to bid and possibly win the vacancy to be the SRA’s chosen independent assessor of the SQE. Given that the changes to the route(s) to qualification as a Solicitor are due to be concluded in 2017 (believe that when we see it), it would seem sensible to make an announcement in the year preceding. Maybe then people will acknowledge that Kaplan’s move was pretty smart.

So, there you have it. Five predictions, five stabs in the dark. Just set a reminder for Saturday 31st December 2016 to review these. I’ll either be acclaimed as the new Nostradamus or the new Russell Grant, let’s see shall we? 

Happy new year!

It’s your professional development, it’s time to take control!

Hands up…how many of you have experienced an effective appraisal or career development review system run by an employer? Not many I’d guess. Personal experience suggests that they are nothing more than tick box exercises with little in the way of actual development being shown for all the talking and hours it takes to complete. Caring and sharing faces shown by ‘People’ managers but really is anything achieved by the time the next review comes around or are you left with that feeling that it’s really just one big empty gesture?

The post-industrial age in which we live provides little job security in the employer/employee market and so it’s time to take control of your own personal and professional development. Don’t worry, it won’t conflict with your employer’s appraisal or career development scheme, in fact it will complement it and might even put you in the driving seat to get genuine support on the road to furthering your professional goals. The point is that you, that’s YOU, have to have a plan; one that you have set out, that is personal to your professional development regardless of whether you are employed or self-employed. A plan that is transferable and continuously progressive. A plan that is your responsibility.

The latest in my toolkit series is a Professional Development Plan Toolkit. It contains documents and provides a process that will help YOU implement YOUR plan and guide you through the professional development cycle. It puts you in the driving seat.

The PDP Toolkit from

The PDP Toolkit from

The toolkit consists of a number of worksheets to be completed in order as part of a development planning process:

  • Self-assessment Worksheet
  • Professional Development Worksheet
  • Goal Development Questions
  • Current Career Issues Worksheet
  • Pinnacle Moments Worksheet
  • Foothill Moments Worksheet
  • Action Steps Worksheet

Each document is in both Word and PDF format so that you can adapt the plan to your specific professional requirements.

A Professional Development Plan; it’s a small price for a huge investment in the biggest asset you have…YOU.

Instructional Design

The latest in the nghudson series of toolkits is now available to download from

The Instructional Design Toolkit available from

The Instructional Design Toolkit available from

The Instructional Design Toolkit complements the previous two kits in the series in that it deals with the next stage in the curriculum/course design process: Design & Delivery Strategy – Course Modelling – Instructional Design.

I know from over twenty years of experience that it is hard to find templates for very important documents such as Initial Design Concepts and particularly Design Briefs. Yes, if you look very hard in the right places only certain people seem to know, you will find the odd PDF file here and there but they vary widely in both suitability and quality. That is why I have produced the tools in this toolkit series, so that designers, in particular those involved in legal education, have ready-made, suitable and comprehensive templates with which to work.

This toolkit comprises the following documents that can be adapted to suit individual organisations or institutions:

  • Initial Design Concept Template
  • Design Brief Template
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verbs Table
  • Session Description Template
  • Task Template
  • Facilitation Guidance Template

Each of the templates has both Word and PDF versions. Guidance is given both on the instructional design process and the information required in order to complete fully working documents, saving you tremendous amounts of time and effort.

As with all the toolkits in this series, they have been designed to be self-contained, however, can provide workshops and support to help design teams get the most out of their use. Simply contact me through this blog or the nghudson website if you’d like details.

Course Modelling

Course modelling is the process by which a course designer maps out the teaching and learning methodology for a particular course or module. Astonishingly, it is often overlooked in the design process as instructional designers seek to shoe-horn the course content into the available sessions at the earliest opportunity. As a result, courses often end up putting content before learning experience which is deeply unsatisfying to learners, the very people who ought to be at the forefront of any course design.

I know for a fact that many legal education providers lack any definition of their teaching and learning methodology and this manifests itself in the absence of any modelling or prototyping of new courses before design begins. The result, a lot of wasted time and energy, lack of direction, no identification of potential pitfalls, and most importantly little consideration of the learning experience for the learners. My answer, a Course Modelling Toolkit, the latest in the toolkit series, which is now available to download from the eCommerce page

Course Modelling Toolkit available from

Course Modelling Toolkit available from

The toolkit contains:

Activity Planner
Module Map
Course Map
Course Map Spreadsheet
Pedagogy Profile Worksheet
Course Aspects Facilitation Cards

The tools can be adapted and branded to suit individual organisations/institutions. can provide half or full day workshops to facilitate the course modelling process and help design teams get their course design off to a great start. For those who wish to go it alone however, a step-by-step guide to the process and use of the tools is included in the toolkit.

Please contact me if you’d like any more details.

Legal Education News: the new online magazine

As you know, I’ve been publishing a legal education newsletter, The Legal Edlines, in 2 formats recently: a weekly version published via and a digital interactive supplement available through my website Both versions have proven popular but now there’s an improved version available.

As of this week, publication of The Legal Edlines will cease and it will be replaced with a brand new online magazine called Legal Education News which will be published with Flipboard.

Flipboard is a publishing platform that can be viewed through a desktop/laptop browser or across all your mobile devices via apps that are available for iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry. Flipboard will provide Legal Education News with a single place to discover, collect and share news that we care about. It will include articles available on the web, publications, social media and blogs connected to legal education, the topics that are closest to us and the people who work in that field.

Legal Education News

Legal Education News

Flipboard provides a beautiful magazine format that is easy to use and great to view. You can curate and share articles that appear in the magazine, ensuring that you and your colleagues are kept up to date with Legal Education News. View the very first issue by clicking on this link:

Legal Education News

Legal Education News will be updated as new stories develop so you will be able to keep up to date simply by hitting the refresh button on your internet browser or by subscribing to the magazine via the Flipboard app. And the best thing about it….it’s FREE!

I hope you read and enjoy it.