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Letters to the editor: unsolicited

Every Issue

Cite as: July 2014 88 (07) LIJ, p.8

Engineering change

The challenging article “Law of supply and demand” (May LIJ, p16) prompts consideration of specialist primary law degrees and specialist practical legal training (PLT).

Engineering faculties have for some time prescribed a general curriculum for their students in the first part of the bachelor degree course, followed by specialisation in the remaining years in a particular branch of engineering, e.g. mechanical, civil or electrical.

With the perceived oversupply of law students and the increasing number of post-graduate law courses, has the time come to emulate the engineering course model? After two years of a broad-based legal syllabus, students could specialise in, say, commercial law, advocacy, transactional law, administrative law or legal policy. Their degrees would specify the type of law studied, similar to engineering qualifications.

To some extent this may already be happening in a subtle way, with some universities having a greater emphasis on one of these skill sets.

Likewise, PLT courses could provide similar types of specialisation rather than a “one size fits all” approach.

Such a concept would recognise that not all law students move forward to admission or, if they do, not all go into practice. It might also acknowledge that there are many varied and equally valid career opportunities for people with legal literacy and that a position in a large commercial law firm is not the only or most desirable vocational option.

Adjunct lecturer

Return to sender

As our profession edges closer to being an equal one for men and women, I am constantly reminded that we still have a long way to go.

The reminder adorns many of the letters and envelopes that come across my desk or even emails in the inbox. It’s the persistence by so many to continue to address letters to “messrs” (insert firm name here) even when the writer is well aware one of the messrs is a ms.

For more than 15 years as a partner I’ve shuddered as I continue to read “dear sirs”. Think that is antiquated? Only this year our firm received a letter, from another firm of lawyers, with the salutation “dear gentlemen”.

One day I will do as I have threatened – return all letters addressed to messrs and sirs “not known at this address”.

Surely this is a tradition that is well overdue for retirement.

O’Farrell Robertson McMahon


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