SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1933. Volume 4. Number 6.
Would you afford me the opportunity to make some explanatory comment on my recent article in "Spike" on legal education ?
This article was written with only one object, namely, to criticise the system of legal education. Unfortunately the method which was adopted has given the impression that a personal attack was being made on the members of the staff of the Law Faculty and those responsible for the legal curriculum at this College alone.
This was intended in no way whatever. It is a principle with which I am completely in agreement; that all matters involving the qualifications of the staff should be dealt with by the Professorial board or the Council, and that student publications are no lit place for allegations of a personal nature. But charges made against the system are easily read as though made against its exponents, and I very much regret that this should have occurred in the present case.
It has also been inferred from my article that the attack was specifically against the system in vogue at Victoria College, in contradistinction to that at all other colleges, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere. This, too, was an inference which was not meant to be drawn from my remarks. Inevitably my criticisms are limited by my experience, and I cannot speak with direct knowledge of the instructions at other universities. But having thus been necessarily limited to Victoria College, I in no way meant to imply that the system used here was especially open to criticism.
In the main, the teaching of law from a standpoint which would take into consideration other than purely legal criteria is a question of syllabus, and in this there is nothing in which Victoria College can be singled out for especial indictment Assuming that the law faculty legitimately restricts its teaching to what the law is, as ascertained from judgments, text-books and legal articles, I gladly admit that the teaching is efficient and successful. Even for the limited purpose of expounding the law as it is, the lecture hours cannot be said to be too many, and the time available to the students them-selves, most of whom work all day in offices, is so restricted as to forbid any teacher under the existing regime from deviating far from the prime task of exposition. Besides, the limitations of an examination system and a short academic year make it impossible for a lecturer to deal with many aspects of his subject even though he personally might attach great significance to them. The same can indeed be said of any university operating with the same system. All this is conceded, and the criticisms were not of the staff but of short-comings in the operation of the system under which they were perforce obliged to work.
As to the complaints regarding both the professional attitude of the lawyer and the apathy of public opinion, these can be made, in my opinion, in most English-speaking countries: and the plea for a better recognition of the social significance of law is but a restatement of a view which has been voiced not only here but in almost every part of the Western world.
The article, though based on consideration of the local position, was believed to be of general application, and that, and that only, is the construction which I have at all times desired and intended should be placed upon it.
The article was not handed to the sub-editors for their consideration, and they were in no way responsible for its inclusion.
I. D. Campbell.