Should Law Students do more Teamwork?
I have two courses starting at Edinburgh University next week - Managing IP for the LLM in IP and an interesting one for a bioscience MSc doing some business sessions to support a commercialisation exercise, both to different extents involve teamwork. In the MSc the students work as a team to develop and promote a product or service while in the LLM the students are invited to develop positions as a team within a hypothetical situation advising a young biotech company.
A few months ago I took part in a panel at the International Bar Association annual conference about the the ideal legal training for a lawyer seeking an international career. After our initial debate as a panel we each lead a round table discussion with groups of participants from around the world on their thoughts. While there was some variety of opinion as you would expect for such a disparate group there was striking consensus on structure - legal education should remain primarily academic during the degree but that more practical subjects should be taught in an additional course similar in principle to our Scottish Diploma and that the ideal skills for a lawyer are not any different whether a domestic or an international career is anticipated. So far so good but more striking was the consensus on the topics that should be considered core that it was felt should be worked into both the academic coursework and the more practical syllabus - effective legal research, ethical conduct and teamwork which brings me back to the courses I will be teaching in the next few weeks.
Business games usually involve participants taking on different roles such as taking responsibility for finance or product management or marketing but often within legal projects we ask a team to argue over a point and come up with a proposal or to take different parts in a role play - is this truly team work? Is there more we can do in our courses to promote shared responsibility and working to different strengths, should we be perhaps looking at more cross functional exercises? SIE are actively encouraging students from all faculties to work together to build business proposals, the law is becoming ever more specialist so that we have to work with colleagues with other expertise including many non lawyers - the issue is recognised but how do we take it forward in a meaningful way in high level academic courses? I am also on an advisory panel for the Law School at Stirling University which meets again soon and I will be interested to hear what colleagues there think of this challenge