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The government’s decision to introduce a nationwide lockdown in March led universities to move from traditional face-to-face seminars and lectures to online teaching methods. This means using technology to stay connected with and assess students. We surveyed a pool of law students* to find out how law schools have made this transition.
Universities offering law courses are reliant on decisions made by regulatory boards such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Bar Standards Board (BSB) to ensure students earn a qualifying law degree at the end of their studies. While many universities chose to cancel exams for first- and second-year students, final years and postgraduate students are finding themselves in a unique situation. They must pass certain core modules to be able to qualify.
After initial plans to postpone examinations, the SRA has approved alternative arrangements for assessment. This may include online assessment. It has, however, left the details to universities to decide. The BSB, on the other hand, remains firm in its decision to postpone April’s exams for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). The next available sitting is in August, making it one of the last courses during COVID-19 still requiring students to sit an in-person exam.
Legal education is still considered traditional in its approach. It is often seen as slow to adopt online teaching methods. Due to COVID-19, however, we are seeing faculty adapt to different technologies in order to deliver their lectures and seminars. Whether they are hosting pre-recorded lectures on the university portal, holding seminars via Zoom video calls or using the chat function within MS Teams, faculty have been working hard to ensure their students don’t miss out on those last few weeks of study before the exam period. While current students are facing a level of disruption not previously experienced by past cohorts, it is clear that legal education is changing, and we are only just seeing the beginning.
*LexisNexis surveyed 25 law students between 26 March and 10 April 2020.
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