Bond University


This paper considers the skill of client interviewing, or client counselling, reinforced in many common law countries by competence statements and as a mandatory component of vocational legal education. Over-reliance on interviewing protocols in the classroom creates a risk that students will develop a rigid, rehearsed performance which does not effectively reflective the nuanced nature of legal practice, or encourage them to develop a personal practice. It is suggested that, as a significant microcosm of legal practice, interviewing should be treated as a threshold concept or capability. Literature around interviewing performances, including differentiation between novices and experts suggests that variation theory can be a useful means of helping novice students to understand the significance of the different variables in the client’s problem; to transcend this threshold and to supplement the interviewing protocol in developing towards a personal professional practice.