Concerns about changes to the way law is taught at the University of Tasmania are being addressed, with the state's legal profession expressing confidence in the recent appointment of a new interim head of Law School.
The Law School's former dean Professor Michael Stuckey stepped down from the role this month due to ill health, and will be temporarily replaced by the nationally recognised legal academic and author Professor Gino Dal Pont.
The University of Tasmania admitted that the school has faced challenges in recent times, and appointed Professor Dal Pont to "address the main challenges" alongside other senior staff.
It is a move welcomed by the Law Society of Tasmania (LST) who believe that Professor Dal Pont is "equipped to rebuild the law school during his term".
Professor Stuckey's departure followed significant changes within the school which raised concerns for the legal profession, including a loss of the school's esteemed reputation.
The changes include a reduction of subject teaching hours to one hour per week, the loss of up to 15 academic staff, and the move to deliver the Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice online.
College of Arts, Law and Education executive dean Kate Darian-Smith said in a letter to alumni that Professor Dal Pont will lead development of the Bachelor of Law's curriculum and teaching delivery, and that staffing issues would also be addressed.
She said Professor Dal Pont is experienced in the areas of equity and trusts, taxation law and legal ethics, has authored numerous legal books, and is often cited in Australian court judgements.
"Professor Dal Pont will collaborate with senior colleagues to address the main challenges that the school has confronted in recent times," Professor Darian-Smith said.
"Over the next few months, the Law School will be rebuilding its permanent academic staffing complement and subject expertise through a program of recruitment."
Mr Gates said LCT had confidence that Professor Dal Pont will be able to restore the Law School's excellent reputation.
"Recently there have been encouraging signs from faculty management that the legal professions' concerns have been heard and steps are being taken to address them," Mr Gates said.
"We have seen promising signs of a return to the constructive and mutalistic relationship that the Law School and the legal profession have historically enjoyed."
Mr Gates said the new teaching model trialled in semester 1 this year would be applied more flexibly.
He said the recruitment of suitably qualified academic staff would replace those lost over the last two years.
"We understand that there will be a relaxation on the rules around lecture delivery, so that subject teachers can teach more than one lecture per week and that those lectures will be in person rather than online," he said.
"I expect that prospective academics would see the recent changes as making the Law School a more attractive place to work."
Regarding changes to Legal Practice, Mr Gates said LCT had been given assurances that the current Centre for Legal Studies would work in cooperation with the University of Tasmania to continue to deliver the graduate diploma course in 2023.
"There is also a review being undertaken by the university into the delivery of post graduate legal practice training...As far as I am aware, the university's earlier plans to deliver an online legal practice training course by a mainland provider have been put on hold."
The search for a permanent head of the Law School will occur.
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