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Akademia’s legal symposium finds solutions to curriculum issues

On Friday 8 April 2022, a legal symposium concerning legal skills in the LLB curriculum was hosted by Akademia’s Department of Law in cooperation with the Solidarity Legal Network. Important discussions were held concerning the status quo and the future of the legal system, processes, and consequently, the curriculum.

Prof. Pieter Duvenage (dean of the Faculty of Humanities and acting dean of the Faculty of Law) opened the discussion, after which Mr. Gerrit Visser (as representative of the Solidarity Legal Network) and Prof. Hermie Coetzee (as department head of the Department of Law at Akademia) provided some background for the symposium. Gerrit Visser emphasised the importance of a balance between theory and practice. ‘The practical aspects as well as the theoretical aspects of law are important and students should pay attention to both,’ he said.

Prof. Erik Vermeulen and Dr. Tronel Joubert, associated with the Tilburg University in the Netherlands, gave the main speech. The speakers discussed the rapid development of technology and the opportunities this creates for the profession. The academy and students should take note of disruptions and make use of it. ‘We have to give students what they need. And that includes a new approach to the curriculum,’ said Prof. Vermeulen.

Prof. Monray Marsellus Botha, from the University of Johannesburg, emphasised the importance of research skills and that these skills ought to be learned early on. He also referred to the reality of load-shedding and poverty, and that students’ social circumstances should be taken into account.

Adv. Gerrie Nel, head of the civil rights watchdog’s private prosecution unit at AfriForum, referred to the decline of the legal system and said that private prosecution offered the solution, which our students should note well.

Dr. Llewelyn Curlewis, from the University of Pretoria, further emphasised the importance of practical training. In turn, Mr. Johann van Eck, an expert in numeracy in law, elucidated the importance of such skills in the practice.

Prof. Willem Gravett, also from the University of Pretoria, illustrated how court proceedings could be brought into the classroom through footage. Dr. Birgit Kuschke gave attention to the Akademia curriculum and discussed Akademia’s goal of incorporating legal skills throughout the curriculum. Dr. Dirk Hermann, managing head of Solidarity and the Solidarity Movement, fittingly concluded the symposium by conveying to the audience the Solidarity Legal Network’s initiative to act as a liaison between student and instructor.

The speakers at Akademia’s legal symposium were (from the left) Adv. Gerrie Nel, Prof. Hermie Coetzee, Prof. Pieter Duvenage, Dr. Monray Marsellus Botha, Dr. Birgit Kuschke, Prof. Tronel Joubert, Mr. Willem Gravett, Dr. Johann van Eck, and Dr. Llewelyn Curlewis.
Prof. Hermie Coetzee welcomes all the guests to the legal symposium.