Implementing clinical legal education methods in a CPD context: a case study on the use of standardised clients to teach and assess solicitor-client communication skills

Rory O'Boyle

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

The objective is to give an update on our experience using standardised clients in a continuing professional education context at the Diploma Programme in the Law Society of Ireland. The study, which draws on the work of Barton, Cunningham, Jones, and Maharg (2006), is concerned with the reliability and validity of using standardised clients as a means of teaching and assessing solicitor-client communication skills. As the ‘students’ taking part in the case study were qualified solicitors in practice, we also had the opportunity to reflect on their perceptions of the use of standardised clients in a clinical legal education context. Up to 50% of the public have used a solicitor whom they did not like and the reasons most often cited were a lack of respect, a lack of interest in the client and poor communication (Cunningham, 2006). Furthermore, it would appear that experience alone is not a sufficient means of developing client interviewing and counselling skills, with little or no correlation between the number of years’ qualified and solicitors’ communications skills (Sherr, 2000). The results of the present study were inconclusive, indicating at best a moderate level of inter-rater reliability. Nevertheless a number findings did emerge, including the importance of adequate training of standardised clients and that such training ought to be reasonably approximate to the formal assessment process. Furthermore, although we had initial concerns about implementing the standardised client methodology to practitioners participating in the case study, many of whom were seasoned employment lawyers, the solicitors responded very positively to the experience, indicative of the fact that practitioners are open and welcome the opportunity to develop such skills and proving that such clinical education methods can be effectively used in a continuing professional education context. Barton, K., Cunningham, C., Jones, G., & Maharg, P. (2006). Valuing what clients think: Standardized clients and assessment of communicative competence. Clinical Law Review, 13(1), 1-65. Cunningham, C. (2006). What Clients Want From Their Lawyers. Paper prepared for The Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet. Sherr, A. (2000). The value of experience in legal competence. International Journal of the Legal Profession, 7 (2).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
EventNUI Galway & Public Law Interest Alliance Conference: Developing Clinical Legal Education in Ireland - Galway, Ireland: NUI Galway School of Law.
Duration: 1 Apr 2013 → …
http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=217

Conference

ConferenceNUI Galway & Public Law Interest Alliance Conference: Developing Clinical Legal Education in Ireland
Period1/04/13 → …
Internet address

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