Vital, Viable, and Visible Reflective Practice: The Inspiring Views of 30 Australian legal educators

The term “reflective practice” captures an essential professional competency that has been undervalued and undertheorized in common law legal education. Clinical and experiential learning environments provide rich fodder for building this professional learning capacity, and the facilitation and modelling of reflective practice are hallmarks of effective clinician teaching and learning practice. However, substantive/traditional legal education courses also benefit from fostering law student reflection, particularly in the domain of critical reflection. I will share preliminary findings from my comparative doctoral research study of how Australian and Canadian law schools are operationalizing reflective practice and why they do so. I will explore key themes emerging from recent Australian interviews capturing the views of 30 legal educators from a wide range of Australian law schools. A synthesis of the hearty Australian legal education literature on reflective practice will also be reviewed. My intention is to support a vibrant conference dialogue on the desirable, feasible and sustainable next steps for improving the relevance and rigour of reflective practice for both law students and legal educators.