I was presenting yesterday on Standardized Clients at the Teaching Legal Ethics workshop organized and hosted by Clark Cunningham and Nigel Duncan, at City University. Very interesting workshop, well designed and implemented. The title of my session was 'The Standardized Client Initiative: a portrait of the teacher as outsider'. Slides at Slideshare, or on the Slides page here.
The title refers to one of the many fascinating paradoxes about SCs when they’re used to assess performance. High-stakes assessment is seen as the core of academic staff competence, where we assess student knowledge and skills; but in using SCs to assess students, what we do is hand over to non-staff, above all to people who are not legally trained, that really important duty. In my session I explained why we might want to do that, how we trained SCs, some of the research underpinning the method, and the implications of the method for legal education. I think the implications are pretty profound, not least in the way that the law school, frequently a black box to all but staff and students (maybe them too) is opened out in a democratic way, and this happens in one of the most important duties that academic staff have, namely assessment of student performance.
There were some perceptive questions from participants about the status of QAA, the place of regulators, the ways in which the SCI might be used in undergraduate education. Next up, Australian National University, in a couple of weeks' time, where I'll be training SCs there. More on that at the time.