At the invitation of Bucerius Law School, Martin Smith, Director of International at University of Law, London, Professor TAN Cheng Han, former Dean of the National University of Singapore and Professor Dr. Karsten Thorn, Acting President of Bucerius Law School, came together to discuss the changes faced by legal training in the US, Europe and Asia. The event was moderated by Bucerius Law School CEO Dr. Hariolf Wenzler. The foundation of the discussion framed legal education in these three geographic areas.
Members of the panel were quick to agree that developments in legal education will first and foremost seek to meet demands of the labor market and cater to trends emerging in the legal services sector.
Tan emphasized increasing cost pressures arising from a general decline in client loyalty. He also pointed out that, even in the legal services market, trends in disintermediation are recognizable and have an impact on demand.
Smith reported that institutions of legal education in the UK increasingly are being urged by firms to move individuals through a training regimen as quickly as possible. Simultaneously, the market has called for programs that provide students with a broad education and utilize interdisciplinary approaches, especially in offering content relevant to business management. He ascribed particular importance to the legislature for its ability to influence policy that would enable greater flexibility in legal training and permit alternatives to traditional regimented curricula. In addition, Smith predicted growth in demand for legal training without qualification to practice, thereby creating new educational markets.
Thorn underscored the importance of developing strong interpersonal and intercultural skills, thereby enabling individuals to flourish in a wide range of contexts. Linking these concepts to core competencies, he spoke to the importance of having a sound understanding of the system, noting that such knowledge is crucial in enabling future practitioners to respond to new challenges and quickly familiarize themselves with unfamiliar issues.
In view of the fact that increasingly more of the time-consuming work generated within the legal profession will be conducted by laymen and modern software, all panelists stressed that a holistic approach to education must be a top priority. The floor was opened early for questions from audience members to which panelists provided compelling and entertaining answers. Discussion closed with the presentation of a gift by the Bucerius Alumni Association.