BOND UNIVERSITY has unveiled its new $10.2 million Legal Skills Centre featuring high-tech moot courts, mediation and dispute resolution rooms and flexible teaching spaces.
Dean of the Faculty of Law at Bond University, Professor Duncan Bentley, said the Legal Skills Centre will give the university’s law students access to state-of-the-art facilities unrivalled by those at other universities.
“Because there’s a funding crisis within law faculties generally, law schools are not able to spend the money on small class teaching of undergraduate students to the degree we are. Unlike most law schools, we have the funding as we are a private not-for-profit university so we raise most of our funds through student fees and charge a premium. So we can provide a higher level of service than other law schools,” Bentley said.
The centre has been modelled on input provided by judges, legal practitioners and faculty staff. Spread over two levels, it features the latest technology used in Australian courts including electronic evidence management systems, videoconferencing, wireless networking and video streaming, as well as the latest teaching technologies which Bentley says will enhance the students’ learning experience.
“Within a civil procedure class the students may go into 17 different break-out rooms where they will all be connected by technology. And the teacher can walk down a corridor with one-way glass and see what they are doing, hear what is being said through the sound technology and give feedback to the students who might be wearing headpieces. It means your training can be much better because you can have two people doing a negotiation and I can say to one student in their ear ‘try this question’, and they then try that question and the class can see that reaction and how it works out,” Bentley said.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, who officially opened the centre, said the facilities were in line with the future of legal practice in Australia.
“These facilities showcase the forward vision of the law school and Bond University,” Ruddock said.
Bentley said the Legal Skills Centre will also be available for use by legal professionals and the general community.
“We are hoping there might be tribunals operating from it and commercial mediations going on in the centre so it will be both a professional practice area and also a training area for students — much more like a teaching hospital in a medical school,” he said.