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Law without lawyers: does legal education have a future?

Lawyers are not popular, as Shakespeare’s most famous and much-repeated quote makes clear. However, the changing nature of law means that the exhortations of Dick the Butcher to “kill all the lawyers” may no longer be necessary.

The increasing cost of legal advice and the excessive formality of the legal system has left the way open for alternative ways to undertake the ‘law jobs’, without the need of lawyers, according to Professor John Hopkins of the University of Canterbury School of Law.

“From Blockchain to ‘Alternative’ Dispute Resolution, the way appears open for a legal system without the need for the high priests of the legal profession to navigate it,” Professor Hopkins says.

“If current trends continue, the much maligned profession may die out, all on its own.”

Given that the profession is facing such an existentialist threat, what does the future hold for legal academia? Based upon the author’s published work, tonight’s UC Connect public lecture – Law without lawyers: does legal education have a future? – argues that the legal academy’s future is assured but will be very different from its recent past.

Successful law schools will be those that shrug off their isolationist exceptionalism and embrace a multi-disciplinary future, Professor Hopkins says.

“In effect, the changing relationship between law and society will drive legal education back to its academic roots. The future of legal academia is the study of law, not the training of lawyers.”

John Hopkins is Professor of Law in the School of Law, College of Business & Law, at the University of Canterbury. He specialises in comparative public law, international governance and administrative justice as well as writing on the subject of legal education generally. His recent work has focussed on the role of law in the governance of disasters.

UC Connect public lecture: Law without lawyers: does legal education have a future? by Professor John Hopkins, School of Law, UC Business & Law, University of Canterbury, 7pm – 8pm, Wednesday 12 September 2018, in C Block lecture theatres at the University of Canterbury, Ilam campus, Christchurch.

Register to attend free at: www.canterbury.ac.nz/ucconnect

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