Assuming the role of Interim Dean presents as an opportunity, on behalf of my colleagues and I, to express our heartfelt thanks to the Law Society President and the members of the profession (including the judiciary) who advocated for the Law School in recent months. It has proven most heartening to witness the value that the profession places on our Law School and the Legal Practice Course, and the jealousy it has exhibited for preserving the reputation of each. We are likewise most grateful for the profession’s recognition of the genuine threats to that reputation.
We are now seeking to re-set the Law School’s interaction with the College of Arts, Law and Education (CALE), and there have been encouraging signs from CALE management to recognise and foster the interests of the Law School. One step in that direction has been an acknowledgement that the UTAS “teaching model” trialled in semester 1, 2022, should not be approached and applied inflexibly, but instead consistently with a pedagogy most suitable to the subject in question, as determined by the expert(s) who teach the subject. Another is an understanding that the Law School needs to be appropriately funded to effectively offer its advertised curriculum.
There is nonetheless a significant rebuilding exercise ahead of us, reputationally and otherwise. Part of this involves restoring the confidence of our existing students, who have shown not just great patience in this environment, but been vocal in a measured and eloquent fashion in bringing the issues to a wider audience. Following the exodus of valued, qualified and experienced teaching staff, the rebuilding will moreover involve the appointment of new teaching staff, over which the Law School will have a primary say. And we take the opportunity to express thanks to those practitioners who have initiated contact with a view to offering their assistance.
These are early days in the “reconstruction”, and we will be sure to keep the profession posted on how it proceeds.
Gino Dal Pont