Subject to the vagaries of air travel, I will arrive in Sydney later today to attend the UNSW Legal Education Conference. I’ll be presenting with my colleagues Alex Steel and Melissa Castan on some work we are doing developing a taxonomy of legal education research. More on that in another post.
In this post, I outline my thoughts on the state of publishing in Australian legal education. I’ll be presenting these as part of a plenary panel at the conference.
Post by Kate Galloway and Melissa Castan. Cite as:
Kate Galloway and Melissa Castan, ‘Legal Citations 2.0’ Katgallow (21 June 2017) https://kategalloway.net/2017/06/21/legal-citations-2-0/
The leading work on legal citations in Australia is the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (‘AGLC’). The AGLC, currently working on a 4th edition, provides users with a comprehensive style guide for all legal writing from use of capitals, through to citation of international treaty materials. (For an example of the current application of the AGLC, see eg this article.)
The explosion of online and other digital sources poses a challenge to most standard r
eferencing styles – as is clearly articulated by Prof Patrick Dunleavy, in this post. For legal citation in Australia, much of this development has occurred since the publication of the third edition of the AGLC, making it timely to reconfigure some of the key guiding principles behind legal citation.
As editors of the Alternative Law Journal and the Legal Education Review respectively, Melissa Castan and I increasingly encounter diverse forms of reference and referencing. In response, and this post, we propose a reorientation of the analogue focus of the AGLC to adapt and address the digital landscape of legal scholarship.
Yesterday the Australian Minister for Education, Simon Birmingham, announced cuts to higher education funding and increases in student fees. In addition, the income threshold for repayment of student debt will be reduced. Funding for teaching will be reduced in 2019 by $380 million relative to the current funding formula.
Universities are huge institutions requiring significant funding to maintain their operations. Yet they face hefty competition from global and increasingly accessible, technologies. Instead of a future of under-funded universities, I see their devolution altogether – at least in terms of education, if not of research.
The change will not be quick. A higher degree (bachelors or above) is now the entry point for the regulated professions. These professions, including law, use course accreditation as a means of guaranteeing standards of graduate entry. For unregulated professions (such as marketing, or banking) the market determines the entry requirement, and that is generally a bachelors degree.
But things are changing, and universities’ role can no longer be taken for granted.
My previous post gave an overview of the Law Society of New South Wales’ flip Report, on the future of law and innovation in the profession. My overall impression is that the Report might provide a useful and very gentle overview of the road ahead, but fails to engage in any real sense with the way in which technology will – and already is – changing law and legal practice.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the chapter devoted to legal education. This poses a real limit on the possibilities for innovation – especially to the extent that regulatory bodies are likely to accept the Report’s statement that existing knowledge and skills must remain.
‘The robots are taking our jobs!’*
The Law Society of New South Wales (‘LSNSW’) has recently released its flip Report (the Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession). Through submissions and a series of hearings between May and November 2016, the Futures Committee has provided the profession with a readable overview of the contemporary environment for the practice of law in New South Wales. And, I dare say, in the rest of Australia and probably beyond.
The Report responds to the exponential rate of change faced by the legal profession, notably through the advent of new technologies. It provides not only a series of key findings, but also a series of recommendations concerning the role of the LSNSW in supporting innovation in the profession.
In this post I provide some initial thoughts on the overarching approach of the Report.
The Australian government’s harassment of tax payers through its Centrelink data matching system is now well-documented. (See eg my own posts, here, here and here.) Yet today the Minister, Alan Tudge, again came out in defence of the system saying that ‘it is working and we will continue with that system’.
Accepting widespread criticism of the Centrelink robo-debt program, the question is whether it is a clever application of technologies to prosecute an ideological agenda, or further evidence that government does not cyber very well.
Centrelink is the latest government IT-dependent scheme to miss the target
Over the last couple of months, #Centrelinkfail has gained momentum as a news story. We knew from reports in 2016 that the Department of Human Services was introducing a data matching system that would check social security payments against tax records. But over Christmas, what began as a trickle of reports of incorrect allegations of debt, debt collectors, and tales of personal crisis turned into a flood.
Meanwhile, the government continues to defend the system, ‘confident’ in its operation.
Today, the former head of the government’s Digital Transformation Office, Paul Shetler, has commented on the government’s succession of IT failures – including #censusfail and Centrelink – describing them as
“cataclysmic” and “not a crisis of IT” but a “crisis of government”.
The Centrelink debacle – in particular when viewed together with the government’s other ill-conceived attempts at implementing digital services – demands an urgent and radical rethink about the nature of process of the exercise of state power in the face of pervasive digital technologies.
Old school ledger
I will start by answering the question in the title: I don’t know.
This post is directed principally at lawyers and legal academics, arguing that whatever the trajectory of Blockchain technology, it is sufficiently significant that we must attempt to understand it at some level at least to think critically about its potential implications.
Some lawyers, principally in Big Law firms with a large banking and finance client base, are deeply engaged in Blockchain including to suggest that it will open new fields of practice. Other lawyers understand but dismiss its potential. In my experience however, the majority is unaware of its existence or cannot really say what it is. This latter position is fair enough, because in my view it’s not easy to find a simple explanation that lacks breathless proclamations of a new world order.
I’m a newcomer, having bitten the bullet after I observed ‘chatter’ about Blockchain had reached a tipping point. In my social media feeds, in recent months it has moved from random mentions (innovators) to dedicated early-adopter status even reaching mainstream media… This must surely mean that it’s time for lawyers to become conversant in the technology and its possibilities (and limitations). This post is a low-tech overview of some of the issues, from a lawyer’s perspective.
On 17 May, SSRN the open access academic research repository, announced that it had ‘joined’ publishing giant Elsevier. Academics use the repository as a free means of disseminating their research, by uploading a work in progress or a pre-publication paper. This is good for academics who derive exposure for their work, but also for the public that can access scholarly publications for no cost.
The acquisition raises some serious questions for academics who are member of the SSRN community. Will Elsevier’s acquisition harm academics’ quest for true open access to research? And, it is right for a corporation to profit from the labour and metadata of academics and users of the otherwise free platform?