‘LLB fails to prepare students to be lawyers’

2012-07-10 00:00

LAWYERS and legal academics are concerned that the present four-year LLB degree does not prepare students for the profession.

A possible revision of the degree is being discussed.

A recent survey of 500 lawyers found only 31% believed the degree prepared students to become successful lawyers.

The survey was conducted by PPS, a provider of financial services to graduate professionals.

Half of the lawyers said they believe the standard of general education would improve over the next five years.

The SA Law Deans Association (Salda), and the Society of Law Teachers of Southern Africa (SLTSA) both made submissions to the Council for Higher Education in 2010 expressing their concern about the capacity of the four-year degree to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills.

They blamed this partly on students’ unpreparedness for university education, and partly on large classes.

“Because of time constraints, the general lack of readiness of students for university education and poor ratios between student numbers and lecturers at most institutions, it is only possible for a limited number of students to acquire enough knowledge and skills in the four-year programme.

“It is becoming more difficult for legal academics to achieve the desired results,” said Salda.

A longer LLB programme and its conversion into a post-graduate course were named as possible solutions.

Council for Higher Education CEO Ahmed Essop said the council was in discussions with Salda about a national revision of the LLB, but no decision had yet been taken.

Essop said a national revision was aimed at the academic quality of the programme, and the opinions of professional bodies would not necessarily be taken into account. He said experts would set minimum standards for all institutions and if faculties fell short, would set deadlines for improvements.

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