The Hon Michael Kirby recently presented a lecture at the Australian Law Teachers’ Association Conference in which he examined the strengths and failings of the law in Australia in meeting individual and community needs for legal services.
Kirby suggested that the recent over-supply of law graduates is unlikely to cure the shortfall in services. He believes that legal academics have a special duty to critique their discipline and provide a sense of engagement among lawyers (starting with law students) with the content of the laws they help to implement.
He offers his new 10 Commandments for Australian Law Schools to address these unmet needs:
- Assure a more diverse intake
- Attend to vulnerable students, so that they survive their studies
- Address some particular subjects of poverty law
- Encourage engagement by future lawyers with civil society
- Promote engagement with all forms of legal aid
- Acknowledge the importance of the law on costs
- Enhance access to law through new technology
- Establish miscarriage of justice and innocence clinics
- Undertake reliant empirical research and law reform projects
- Consider basic lessons to be derived from foreign systems
Is your law school already following Kirby’s 10 commandments? Or like other law schools, do you have faults that need correcting?