The student as apprentice: Bridging the gap between education, skills and practice

Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Published Version.

Butler, J. & Mansted, R. (2008). The student as apprentice: Bridging the gap between education, skills and practice. Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association, 1(1&2), 287-297

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2008 HERDC submission. FoR code: 1801

© Copyright Joel Butler & Rachel Mansted, 2008


An endeavour to bridge the acknowledged gap between traditional legal education and legal practice, Mooting, Appellate Advocacy and Legal Practice (MAALP) was an exercise in ‘experiential education’.1 Designed to develop students’ practical legal skills through a synthesis of academic inquiry and experience, the authors introduced and taught MAALP as a new course in the Faculty of Law at Bond University in 2007. The course aimed to replicate, as far as possible in a controlled learning environment, the conditions and demands of legal practice, focusing on the development of specific legal skills within a wider professional context. Students were expected to engage in processes that simulated what they would be expected to do in practice, and this experiential component was supplemented with theoretical and instruction-based lectures and seminars, individual practice sessions, and reflective learning. Effectively, students were ‘apprenticed’ to legal practice.
The authors argue that a mode of teaching involving exposure to emulated legal practice, combined with repetition, reflection and dedicated instruction, has a valid place in modern legal education. Through the experience of MAALP, the authors seek to demonstrate one way in which legal educators can meet the ‘increasingly urgent need to bridge the gap between analytical and practical knowledge’.2 This paper outlines the background to this need, and analyses the course’s teaching aims and methodologies and the degree to which valid pedagogical outcomes were achieved, both from the perspective of the authors and students.
1, 2 See notes in article.



This document has been peer reviewed.