Bond University

Article Title

Translation and the Divorce Lawyer: Simulating the Law and Society Interface


In this paper I discuss the use of simulation to explore the role of the legal profession in the resolution of matrimonial disputes. Two points are assumed. The first is the importance of the legal profession to both theoretical and practical aspects of family law.The second is the relative and possibly related dearth of empirical research about the legal profession. Some empirical studies have appeared in response to Mnookin and Kornhauser’s complaint that, “in view of the critical role of lawyers and the disparate functions they may perform, it is startling how little we know about how lawyers actually behave.” But there is no shortage of material explaining the reasons for the paucity of empirical data. The absence of much empirical research on the day-to-day activities of the legal profession is a serious gap in our legal knowledge. The traditional family law concentration on statute and precedent detracts from the dynamic nature of family law and neglects the role of the legal profession in out-of-court activity. Yet how can out-of-court activity be taught in the classroom? It does not exist in as convenient a form as the print of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Students can draw on their personal experiences with the law and from television series or literature, whether these deal directly with the legal profession or present situations with which lawyers have to deal. Oliver Twist reveals one possible alternative to the legislative schemes for state protection of children who are deemed to be in danger. Television series such as “Home and Away”, “E Street” and “LA Law” present an impressive array of issues in relation to almost every aspect of a family law course. There may be a feeling that references to the popular media make issues less important than they would be if discussed solely in terms of the legislative provisions. But the importance of the link between students’ experiences and the learning process cannot be underestimated. (See all references in the article)

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