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JILT 1999 (3) - Editorial


Professor Abdul Paliwala

This issue features innovations in communications and information technology in legal education, although readers will note our abiding interest in legal information (see below), legal practice and processes and the developing law in areas such as the internet and electronic commerce.

The development of the proposed United Kingdom Learning and Teaching Centre for Law signifies a crucial time of transition in the relationship between C&IT and legal education. The confirmation of the central role of C&IT in legal education is accompanied by a common sense recognition that technological development which does not give due consideration to pedagogical issues can be counterproductive, hence the need for an integrated national learning centre. This issue is therefore intended to contribute to the debate about the link between pedagogy and technology. Bill Boyd's article on video-conferencing has as its premise: 'The admonition that we must never lose sight of the pedagogical or other goals that underlay our efforts as educators and legal professionals clearly applies to video conferencing'. The video-conferencing experiments he describes include pedagogically innovative developments such as the use of conferencing for simulation of tricky transnational business negotiations and forensic examination of witnesses. That video conferencing is an idea whose time has come is apparent from the successful LTC seminar on electronic conferencing as well as the equally successful recent Australia-UK seminar on legal education.

Robin Widdison and Abdul Paliwala's (I believe complementary!) articles on the implications of C&IT for legal education both have as their starting point the need to move away from the how it is done approach to a consideration of wider implications for the transformation of legal education with an emphasis on legal pedagogy, cultural and socio-legal change. Both pieces in their different ways emphasise that an effective technological transformation of legal education is premised on the need to integrate the various technologies as well as to integrate technologies within a wider educational environment. Donna Buckingham's stimulating paper on boundary riding on the internet explores the issues involved in management of access to internet information for the law student. In contrast, John Fairhurst's study of the internet based CPE course at Huddersfield is more orthodox in analysing a learning innovation, but it benefits from a clear pedagogical perspective. It is most significant for its thorough evaluation which assists in fulfilling our growing need for evaluation of C&IT in legal education.

Our other refereed article by Peter Gottschalk is an excellent socio-legal study of knowledge management in Norwegian law firms with an underlying question as to whether IT-supported knowledge management will revolutionize law firms.

These refereed articles are supplemented by a variety of other exciting work including issues such as domain names a case note on Avery Dennison Corp v Sumpton by Richard Margiano, Annette Orange's BILETA prize winning essay and Georgios Zekos' article considering the effects of cyberspace on international law and the democratic process, as well as a number of book reviews and conference reports.

The crucial importance of access to legal information is signified by the number of UK organisations and publishers in collaborating in a meeting to ' Free the Law' on the 8th November 1999. That the keynote speaker is Graham Greenleaf, the Director of AustLII (The Australian Legal Information Institute) underscores the international significance of AustLII's work in this area. AustLII has established itself as an internationally admired technically innovative repository legal information which is free to the user. As McMahon's extended conference report suggests, the Second AustLII conference in Sydney in July '99 was remarkable both in indicating the breadth of AustLII and global developments in legal information. In this issue we publish a small number of papers from the conference. The next issue will publish the bulk of the AustLII papers thus providing further witness to the exciting developments and issues from a global perspective.

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