It was a Dark and Stormy Night – The Importance of Practitioners in Legal Education

Jeremy Hessing-Lewis

In law school, many of my favorite classes were taught by lawyers engaged in private practice. They offered a very different outlook from the mainstream academics. Part of the appeal was that practitioners tended to be very anecdotal. It was never just “the legislation says X and the case law says Y.” Instead, it tended to be “it was a dark and stormy night mid-way through the trial when opposing counsel called with settlement offer Z.”

Because very few cases result in a reported decision, traditional legal education tends to miss many of the nuances of negotiation, pragmatism, civil procedure, and settlement. If most legal matters result in a settlement, how come settlement negotiations are often a footnote in most legal programs? The answer is fairly simple: settlements are generally confidential. The only way to know how the case resolved is to be there. This experience (even after removing the confidential details), is the reason that many practitioners are engaging teachers.

This being said, I was happy to see that David Halkett, a family law lawyer at McQuarrie Hunter LLP (a Skunkworks client) teaches in the paralegal program at Vancouver Community College.

If there are any other colleges looking for a substitute, I’d be happy to take the call.


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