Thursday, April 09, 2009

After the SLSA

The Socio-Legal Studies Association finished today. We met at De Montfort University in Leicester.

I liked De Montfort but Leicester is an appalling town. Ring roads for boy racers and endless roadworks making any pedestrian's progress feel more like Tetris than walking. Leicester has a slogan: One Passion--One Leicester. Sad, very sad...

I did have a pleasant stroll down the riverbank until I had to surface at what looked like hoodies' corner with me giving myself fairly short odds on getting through. I'm still here.

The conference was very well-arranged. My sessions were on the first day which takes the pressure off for the remainder. The speakers in "Lawyers and Legal Professions" delivered excellent papers that created plenty of discussion and is leading to at least one new research project with a couple of people there.

Other interesting sessions included one on Legal Education which had a paper on a big study of pupillage at the Bar. Unlike Justine Rogers' study which is ethnographic, this is a large quantitative project which so far has had a 95% response rate! It's tracking students from the Bar Vocational Course through pupillage into their careers.

It's already confirming some known suspicions. Unless you are white, male, and have top degree from either Oxford or Cambridge, you won't get a position in the top commercial chambers. These are resistant to change. Without these characteristics you are likely to end up in house or practising outside London. Anna Zimdars at Manchester is doing the research.

Unfortunately not all papers were so rigorous. Various studies of teaching particular subjects on the curriculum were dire: no theory, no data, just opinion.

China figured interestingly. One paper suggested that by 2015 China would become an intellectual property protector rather than an appropriator. Another argued that China was so distinctive that no matter how much it appeared to incorporate Western modes of legality, it would only be superficial and that Confucianism with a dose of Maoism is the true path.

My journey to the edge of the world is over and I'm back in London.
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