INSPIRED BY the enormous response to a recent Lawyers Weekly report about the New York Bar Review Quality Program, which will enable Australian lawyers to compete with US attorneys in the New York Bar exam, Lawyers Weekly spoke to La Trobe University about plans to incorporate the program into its LLM course.
The notion of the global lawyer was the driving principle behind La Trobe LLM program director, Professor Gordon Walker’s interest in Beatrice O’Brien’s NY Bar Review Quality Program. “We are looking to migrate parts of the NY Bar program into our masters program,” Walker said.
Suitable for those pursuing work opportunities in New York or other US jurisdictions, as well as those hoping to enhance their CV and deal with US and international clients, the NY Bar Review Quality Program is being offered to Australian lawyers. It comprises 200 hours of lecture time over 48 sessions in Australia.
Although initially Walker had thought the program was a clever anticipation of the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), he said he quickly realised this was not the case. But, he said, “it is given impetus by the FTA”.
If the university and O’Brien are able to successfully accredit parts of the program and meet the education board’s requirements, Walker will be able to incorporate the program into the LLM course.
The added benefit for students at La Trobe would be that they could prepare for the NY Bar exam while undertaking their masters course and also having access to the education loan scheme.
There are, however, some questions to ponder for both parties in the implementation of the course. The concern for O’Brien is to maintain the quality of the original Program and ensure the “synergies” are right. There is also the matter of clearly defining examination requirements.
But if it succeeds, the benefits for La Trobe students would be great, Walker said. Global law was becoming more popular for students around the world, including Australia, and the agreement increased the importance of having a global perspective. “Some understanding of the legal system [of the country] with whom we do our trade would be advisable for Australian lawyers.”
“In the old days, Australian lawyers had to fly to the US, take a room in a hotel and attend the Bar course for eight weeks, maybe more,” Walker said.
“The advantage of this program is to do it in Australia at a considerable saving. While students are prepping they can get the bulk of an LLM — that is the value proposition.”