Thursday, February 18, 2016

Johannes Chan on Legal Education in Hong Kong

"Legal Education in the Global Context: The Case of Hong Kong"
in Christopher Gane and Robin Hui Huang (eds), Legal Education in the Global Context: Opportunities and Challenges (Ashgate 2015) 
Overview: The Impact of Globalization
      Partly as a result of globalization, a few recent trends in legal education are noticeable. Firstly, the pace of changes in the modern era is unprecedented. On the one hand, knowledge has a much shorter life-span these days and factual knowledge becomes outdated much more quickly than before. On the other hand, many new problems have emerged that require innovative solutions within a very short period of time. The advance of modern technology and means of communication, which present a new virtual world with novel and complex legal relationships is a prime example. Secondly, advances in technology mean that a huge amount of information is available on any topic. It also greatly shortens the distance between different legal systems and legal cultures. Very few legal systems can be insulated from external influences these days, and there is an increasing need for knowledge and familiarity of legal systems other than that of our own. Thirdly, legal issues have become increasingly multi-disciplinary in nature. Climate change, town planning, trade relations and so on are just some obvious examples. Fourthly, it is rare these days that graduates will stay in one career throughout their life. Instead, we have seen university graduates, and not just law graduates, have become or have to become increasingly versatile. It is also an increasingly popular phenomenon that law graduates, by their own choice, decide not to stay in, or even enter into legal field. 
     As legal education has become increasingly globalized and competitive, more and more legal education institutions are adopting an outward looking attitude. This has enhanced academic collaboration and exchange, to the benefit of both students and teachers. The other side of the coin is that tertiary institutions are increasingly concerned about international ranking. Education is to be quantified so that they can be compared and ranked. Factors that are more difficult to measure such as quality of teaching or impact on students tend to be ignored, or worse, twisted for the sake of quantification... Contact the author for a copy.

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