Legal Education Research Network LERN



Projects


Current Research

Dates undertaken

Researchers

Project description and publications/conference papers

2012 - ongoing

Graeme Broadbent, Vera Bermingham, Mike Cuthbert and John Hodgson

 

Main areas of investigation
This research subjects the external examiner system to critical scrutiny and seeks to identify its strengths and weaknesses, locating this particularly in the literature surrounding assessment and quality (e.g .Warren Piper 1994; Wisker 1997; Morley 2003; Brown 2004; Hannan and Silver 2006). This research builds on work previously undertaken by Mike Cuthbert (2003, 2003a) on the development of the external examiner system.

Publication
Bermingham V., Broadbent G., Cuthbert M., and Hodgson J. (2014) The External Examiner’s Bible? The Law Teacher, International Journal of Legal Education, Vol.  No.

2013 - ongoing

 

Susan Watson and Susan Scott Hunt

 

Main areas of investigation
National project which forms part of the OIA Early Resolution of Student Disputes initiative to explore the anecdotal evidence that student complaints to the OIA are growing year-on-year and anticipated to increase further with the new fee regime. Also, student disputes with Higher Education Institutions are increasingly being referred to lawyers (The OIA 'Pathway 3 Consultation - Towards Early Resolution and Effective Complaints Handling' October 2012).  

 

Completed Projects

Dates undertaken

Researchers

Project description and publications/conference papers

2007 - 2008

 

Mike Cuthbert

 

Main areas of investigation
The experience of those undertaking the LPC and BVC were explored with regard to matters such as levels of debt, paid work to support studies and their entry to the legal profession itself. There was a particular emphasis on the experience of those who had not studied for a law degree but who had got a GDL/CPE in law.

Information about the findings from this project can be obtained from Mike (email address provided).

2005 - 2006

 

John Hodgson and Vera Bermingham

 

Main areas of investigation
This project funded by the UKCLE explored some of the facts lying behind the commonly held assumptions that:
Students are dissatisfied with the feedback they receive on their coursework;
Students are unclear as to the assessment criteria against which they are being judged;
Students do not value feedback or use feedback opportunities effectively.

The project also explored practice among staff engaged both in academic and vocational law teaching, and reviewed existing practice in the light of the findings and wider pedagogic research.

Report
Bermingham, V. and Hodgson, J. (2004) Formative feedback: use within law programmes, UKCLE Report

Main publication
Bermingham, V. and Hodgson, J. (2006) Feedback on Assessment:  Can we provide a better student experience by working smarter than by working harder? The Law Teacher. Vol. 42 No. 2

2004 - 2005

 

Mike Cuthbert

 

Main areas of investigation
This recruitment to law courses survey followed on from work undertaken by Paul Catley (formerly Oxford Brookes University and Head of Law at the University of the West of England). The research aimed to identify the factors that influence students in their choice of subject and place to study it. The co-researcher was Professor Phil Harris.

Information on findings can be obtained from Mike (email address provided)

2003 - 2005

 

Vera Bermingham, Susan Watson and Martin Jones

 

Main areas of investigation
This project, funded by the UKCLE, examined the general perception of inconsistency in dealing with academic misconduct across law UK schools.  The research, endorsed by the professional bodies and by CHULS, focused on definitions of plagiarism, levels of detection, procedures and penalties for dealing with plagiarism in law schools in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

Report
Bermingham, V., Watson S., and Jones M.  (2008) Policies, Procedures and Penalties for Plagiarism in UK Law Schools (UKCLE Report available on-line October 2008).

Main publication
Bermingham, V., Watson S., and Jones M. (2008) Plagiarism: is there a postcode lottery? Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education Vol. 35 No.1

2003 - 2004

Professor Patricia Leighton, G Vowles, Richard Owen and Helen Power

 

Main areas of investigation
This research in this project was the first time that Wales as a separate country had been investigated. The work covered all sectors of legal education in Wales, including schools, FE as well as universities and continuing education for lawyers. It combined surveys, with face to face and telephone interviews. It explored student numbers, courses, modes of delivery, assessment, law teachers and also focused on welsh medium delivery and some of the distinct aspects of legal education in Wales in the post-devolution era. The research was funded by UKCLE and the University of Glamorgan

Research report
Leighton, P, Vowles, G, Owen, R and Power H (2004) MaLEW:The key findings of the Mapping Legal Education in Wales Project 2002-3  University of Glamorgan

Publications
Leighton, P “Is the legal education system in Wales measuring up to contemporary challenges? Some research evidence from the MaLEW Project, 2003 (2003) Wales Law Journal 71-76

Leighton, P and Vowles, G “Challenges for Law Schools in providing CLE: Some evidence from Wales” (2004) European Journal of Legal Education  Spring 2004 9-17

The research also led to conference papers at the LILI  2003 Conference, Warwick University and the ALT Annual conference at Maastricht University, April 2003 where the issues affecting law teachers in Wales were considered.

2000-2004

Mike Cuthbert and  Parmar

 

Main areas of investigation
This research took place at a time when there was growing concern about rising student debt and hardship for students the project took the form of a longitudinal study of a cohort of students entering their law degree in 2000. A particular focus was to explore why relatively few law graduates enter the legal profession and enquire as to whether there were any discernable characteristics of those that did not enter the profession. Students completed questionnaires each years and these were disaggregated by sex, age, socio-economic group, family background. The research linked directly to the UK government’s “widening participation” policy.

Report
Cuthbert M and Parmar, D (2004) Law student 2000  University of Northampton

2003 -2005

 

Professor  Phil Harris and Sarah Beinart

 

Main areas of investigation
Professor Harris has been responsible for the three ground-breaking surveys of UK law schools. Each has gathered data on basic course provision, mode of delivery, students numbers and type of attendance, staff numbers, learning resources etc but each survey picked up different issues that were explored as almost free standing projects.

The surveys, for which many LERN members provided advice and support were funded by the various law teaching bodies and all achieved an extremely high response rate.

Ten years after he completed his first survey, Professor Harris undertook a project to obtain core data on UK law schools and to note changes and trends from the First Survey in 2001. This project collected data on student admissions criteria, learning, teaching and assessment practices, staffing and resources. This survey was sponsored by UKCLE, ALT, BILETA,CHULS, SLS and Kingston University. The findings were published in The Law Teacher

Main publication
Harris, P and Beinart, S (2005) “A survey of law schools in the United Kingdom, 2004” The Law Teacher vol 39, No 3

2000 - 2001

 

Professor  Phil Harris and Alison Bone

 

Main areas of investigation
This was an exploration of the experience of examiners in terms of both formal and informal experiences of “externalling” in various law schools, the duties undertaken, their role in decision-making etc.

Research report and publication
Alison Bone and Phil Harris (2002) “The experience of external examining for undergraduate law degrees: a research survey” The Law Teacher (2002) vol 36 No 2

1997 - 2000

 

John Hodgson and Vera Bermingham

 

Main areas of investigation
This project evolved from the debate about the skills and qualities which different groups of recruits bring into the legal profession and, in particular, what makes graduates of the Common Professional Examination/Postgraduate Diploma in Law apparently more attractive to employers than Law graduates which had been has been taking place since the early 1990s.  Although the issue had been looked at from a number of different perspectives, there was an absence of clear information about employers’ perceptions of the skills and qualities which the different groups possess. Consequently, the central aim of this research was to obtain information concerning how various qualifications, skills and attributes are valued by employers and to examine the factors which affect patterns of entry to the legal profession.  In addition, because of the interest in the employment position of women and minority ethnic groups in the legal profession, the research also sought to determine if the rhetoric of addressing under-representation and discrimination were being reflected in recruitment decisions.

Main publication
Bermingham, V. and Hodgson, J. (2001) Desiderata: What Lawyers want from their Recruits.  The Law Teacher, International Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 35 No.1

1997 - 1998

 

Mike Cuthbert

 

Main areas of investigation
The research looked at the external examiners system to learn more about how law schools recruited and used external examiners and enquired as to whether they were being used effectively. Questionnaires were sent to law degree course leaders and to external examiners themselves. Alison Bone and Professor Phil Harris contributed to the work.

Report
Cuthbert C External examiners: How do law schools use them? (1999) University of Northampton. The research also led to several conference presentations and a register of potential examiners being established by UKCLE

1996- 1997

 

Professor Patricia Leighton and Cath Little

 

Main areas of investigation
This research took the form of an enquiry as to what materials were used by law teachers, or recommended to their students and the process by which decisions of law teachers were made. How important was, say, price, reputation of author, topicality, and book reviews in journals? Were teachers tending to develop their own materials or using the texts and other materials of established authors? What reliance was there on primary sources? There were some unexpected findings.

The research took the form of a survey of teachers and follow-up interviews. It was funded by Sweet and Maxwell/Thomson and the co-researcher was Cath Little.

Research report and publication
Leighton, P and Little, C “A “black hole” in legal education: learning materials for law students” (1997) The Law Teacher Vol 27 237-51

1994 - 1996

 

Vera Bermingham, Claire Hall and Julian Webb

Main areas of investigation
This project examined access to undergraduate legal education.  The project was informed by the research which existed at the time into the structural and demographic characteristics into British higher education, which indicated that there were considerable gaps in our knowledge of patterns of access to and participation in higher education.  Issues of access and participation in legal education in particular had received little discussion in the academic literature and the literature that had been published focused on the former polytechnic sector and not the pre-1992 universities. This project sought to fill that gap.

Main publications
Access to and Participation in Undergraduate Legal Education: An Exploratory Study, Faculty of Law Working Paper No 2, Bristol: UWE, May 1996, viii + 60pp (with Julian Webb and Claire Hall) (research commissioned by the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Legal Education & Conduct).

Bermingham V., and Webb J., (1995) Access to and Participation in Legal Education, in ‘Removing the Barriers: Legal Services and the Legal Profession, Proceedings from the Annual Research Conference, The Law Society Management and Planning Directorate,  pages 61-66.

1992 - 1994

 

Professor Patricia Leighton, Tom Mortimer and Nicola Whatley

 

Main areas of investigation
This was the first all UK survey of law teachers. It explored their background, qualifications, teaching methods, role in law schools, attitudes to their work and career aspirations, along with their motivation and levels of job satisfaction. In particular, it explored their professional identity.

Research report
Leighton, P, Mortimer, T and Whatley, N Today’s Law Teachers: Lawyers or Academics? (1995) Cavendish Publishing

1991 - 1993

Vera Berminghan and Chris Hibbert

 

Main areas of investigation
This project reviewed the syllabus content and teaching materials/information provided to schools and colleges by the five main examining boards for A Level law.  It looked to examination rubric and choice of questions and made an analysis of the results profile of grades awarded by each board.

Main publication
Bermingham V., Hibbert C., (1993)” Which Board? A Consumers Guide to the A Level Examining Boards,” The Law Teacher, Vol.26 No.4 1993, p 139-151.

1990 - 1992

 

Professor Phil Harris

 

Main areas of investigation
As this was the first survey that covered all university law schools in the UK the parameters of the survey had to be carefully considered and discussed. The survey was the first to gather basic data about all law schools-how many people worked there, how many students, what courses they were studying, how they were taught and assessed, what facilities they had, especially learning resources. It was hoped and indeed, this hope was almost realised, that it would be a “whole law school survey”, enabling a total picture to emerge.

Research report and publications
The research was published as a free standing report.  An associated publication is;

Harris, P and Tribe, D (2005) “The impact of semesterisation and modularisation on the assessment of law students” The Law Teacher vol 29 No 3 

Page last updated: 28th January 2016