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The CAVE experience is an immersive virtual reality (IVR) environment employing high-resolution, 3D video and audio technology. Using the CAVE, researchers at University College London designed an IVR scenario intended to echo the logical structure of a traditional ‘trolley scenario’ problem, and deployed this activity within an undergraduate Law and Ethics Course. In this chapter we explore how the use of virtual reality can offer students an unparalleled opportunity to reflect on the dissonance between the behaviour they adopt when faced with an ethical dilemma, and the theoretical stance they propose during class discussion. We explore how this personalisation gives rise to sustained student engagement borne out of a desire to understand the discrepancy between principle and practice. Our chapter considers the potential of IVR technology when teaching ethics to future and current professionals. We conclude by considering how such technology can offer more dynamic opportunities for student reflection and how IVR might be sensibly integrated into a broader legal ethics curriculum.
Once characterised as a relatively stable profession, unfettered by the influence of modernity and strongly resistant to external forces, the legal services sector has in recent years exhibited marked change. Efforts to preserve profit margins increasingly eroded by the introduction of new fee models, the demand for increased billing transparency, rising client expectations, the adoption of technology and heightened market competition from high volume legal process outsourcers, have all contributed to the sector’s evolution. In what has been viewed as a clear shift towards corporatisation and commercialisation, the legal profession in a number of jurisdictions has moved away from the broader social mission on which it was founded and in which it existed as ‘a branch of the administration of justice and not a mere money-getting trade’. Free market ideologies have undermined ‘justice and rights in the discourse of law’, and in its place, the generation of profit has become the primary indicator of success.
Over the last decade Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the form of data-driven tools designed to support legal task completion, have occupied a growing position within the delivery of private legal services and the exercise of administrative functions by the public sector. As a result, whilst technological literacy was once understood as the capacity to use particular forms of word processing software, navigate the Internet or send electronic correspondence, modern forms of literacy demand a user exhibits a broader range of skills, including the ability to understand, apply, visualise and infer patterns from data. This chapter considers the range of current initiatives developed to address the technology skills and awareness gap amongst law students, and identifies the subject areas that ought to take priority in future curriculum development. It argues that exposure to data analysis and data-driven technologies represents a necessary component of students’ preparation for entry into the professions on the basis that this knowledge: (i) enhances student employability in an increasingly competitive graduate job market; and (ii) equips graduates to meet their wider civic responsibilities to uphold the rule of law and promote access to justice.
Over the last decade, cost pressures, technology, automation, globalisation, de-regulation, and changing client relationships have transformed the practice of law, but legal education has been slow to respond. Deciding what learning objectives a law degree ought to prioritise, and how to best strike the balance between vocational and academic training, are questions of growing importance for students, regulators, educators, and the legal profession. This collection provides a range of perspectives on the suite of skills required by the future lawyer and the various approaches to supporting their acquisition. Contributions report on a variety of curriculum initiatives, including role-play, gamification, virtual reality, project-based learning, design thinking, data analytics, clinical legal education, apprenticeships, experiential learning and regulatory reform, and in doing so, offer a vision of what modern legal education might look like.
In England and Wales less than half of the adult population report that they have a will, with similarly low numbers found in other jurisdictions. Dying intestate can have profound implications on the family relationships, housing security, finances, employment, health and welfare of those who are left behind. Social policy initiatives designed to educate the public on the implications of intestacy offer a potential solution but remain difficult to evaluate. This article explores the results of a public legal education experiment embedded in a longitudinal panel survey. The experiment was designed to explore: (1) the impact of information provision on will creation; and, (2) how ‘opportunistic experiments’ embedded in longitudinal surveys might support public legal education (PLE) evaluation. Whilst the impact of the information intervention in this study was not found to be statistically significant, the methodology points to the possibility of testing more bespoke and substantial initiatives in the future.
As an increasing number of Government services have moved away from traditional modes of provision to online formats, there has been a corresponding need to ensure greater access to the internet. Although older people (those over 60) are least likely of all age groups to have access to the internet in their homes, the internet holds much potential as an information and advice resource for those older people who may find it difficult to access advice over the telephone or in person. Realising this potential extends beyond issues of physical access; consideration must necessarily be given to issues of internet literacy and the inclination of this cohort to utilise what may be new and unfamiliar technology. This paper examines these matters in the context of the resolution of everyday problems with a legal dimension. Looking first at the use of the internet for information and advice seeking related to such problems, we find that those aged over 60 demonstrate the least use of the internet for problems with a legal dimension. Simultaneously, those aged over 60 are also the group with the lowest level of home access – a particular issue given that for over 60-year-olds, home access is a far stronger determinant of internet use for problems than it is for other age groups. Examining use of the internet for advice seeking over the last decade, findings demonstrate the existence of a general increase in use amongst all age groups over time, albeit with a lower rate of growth amongst those currently over 60. As an indication of future growth, this will have implications for the provision of services. Whilst the ‘young old’ will utilise the internet to a greater degree and will require websites which are tailored to their needs, those individuals at the older end of the age spectrum may best be served by continued access to face-to-face or outreach advice. The implications these findings pose for policy makers in setting priorities in the remit of online service provision are discussed, with results having particular relevance in England and Wales given planned changes to civil legal aid.
Previous studies have highlighted the paucity of knowledge possessed by people in a number of jurisdictions with regard to specific legal issues and processes, yet what has not been fully understood is the practical impact of this lack of knowledge. This paper looks at how knowledge of rights affects the resolution of civil justice problems. Data were extracted from a large-scale survey of adults’ experience of rights problems throughout England and Wales (10,537 adult respondents). The results demonstrated that most individuals were not aware of their rights at the time the problem occurred (64.8 per cent). Knowledge was shown to be poorest amongst those with mental illness, those without higher qualifications and those renting their homes. Problems where knowledge was poor included clinical negligence, welfare benefits and neighbours issues. Knowledge did not appear to be related to a particular problem-solving strategy but had an impact on the fulfilment of objectives and the obtaining of advice. Our findings depart from existing literature by indicating that knowledge of rights alone is not associated with legal self-sufficiency in terms of a reduced dependence upon legal advice services. We find, however, that individuals, with knowledge of rights, experience better outcomes when they opt to handle their problem alone. Accordingly, the presence or absence of knowledge of rights may be a useful proxy measure of legal advice need and relevant to the process of legal aid rationing. Our findings highlight the role that Public Legal Education (PLE) (both ‘rights-based education’ and ‘just-in-time/self-help’) may play in disposing of less complex problems, while presenting a strong case for the continued availability of free legal advice services. The research is discussed in the context of the recently announced legal aid reforms in England and Wales and their anticipated impact.
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