Learning and Teaching Seminar | Law

Learning and Teaching Seminar

Event date: 
23 March 2017
1:00pm to 2:00pm
Staff Common Room
‘Measuring The Impact Of A Clinical Component In A Law Course: Are The Students More Committed To Working Towards Justice Afterwards?’
Anna Cody
Associate Professor, Director - KLC, UNSW Law

‘Measuring The Impact Of A Clinical Component In A Law Course: Are The Students More Committed To Working Towards Justice Afterwards?’


Ethics teaching is strengthened and enriched by including real clients and actual ethical dilemmas.  Uniquely, the Lawyer, Ethics and Justice course at UNSW offers all students the opportunity to interview real clients as part of their course.  Dealing with real clients gives students a broader and deeper understanding of themselves as future lawyers, and if situated within a legal practice for disadvantaged clients, it also has the potential to strengthen students’ commitment to work towards justice in some way in the legal system.  By teaching ethics with a clinical component depth is added to the curriculum, and justice issues are emphasised as a part of the broader understanding of ‘ethical values and work’ of a lawyer.  This presentation will present the findings of a survey of Lawyers, Ethics and Justice students in 2015, about the impact on them, of their interviewing of real clients at Kingsford Legal Centre.  The research project asks whether or not the clinical component impacts students’ understanding of ethical issues and their own professional identity.  It also examines whether it affects students’ commitment to contributing to the community. Finally, the research asks how a clinical component impacts on students’ later studies and students’ sense of confidence and autonomy. The surveys reveal that students gain a deeper, more textured understanding of ethical issues, including the importance of care for client through their interviewing experience.  Students also grow in their commitment to future pro bono work and/or work contributing to the community.  Additionally, students, even though it is a short experience, increase in their confidence of their ability to succeed in their law studies. 


Anna Cody is an Associate Professor and Director of Kingsford Legal Centre which is a community legal centre specialising in discrimination and employment law and is also part of the Faculty of Law.  Anna Cody has a Masters in Law from Harvard University.  The Centre is part of the University of New South Wales Law Faculty and teaches law students to think critically about the law and legal system through clinical legal education methodology.   She has worked at the Centre for over 15 years.  During that time the Centre has won various awards including the 2001 Australian Awards for University Teaching, Law and Legal Studies, 2001 (the Centre) and 2009 (individually) UNSW Vice-chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, and 2010 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.  In 2016 Anna won the Australian Human Rights Commission award in the Law Category.  In 2007 Anna Cody won the NSW Women Lawyers achievement award in the government/community lawyer section.  From 2011 to 2013 Anna was the Chair of CLCNSW and member of the Board of Law Access.  She was also the Deputy Chair of the NSW Legal Assistance Forum. She is currently Vice Chair of the National Association of Community Legal Centres and Board member of Legal Aid NSW.

Her research areas are in the area of clinical legal education, its effectiveness in teaching students about justice and also human rights and civil society involvement in human rights mechanisms. She has published widely in these areas.  She has recently published a book ‘Australian Clinical Legal Education’ (Evans, Cody, Copeland, Giddings, Joy, Noone, Rice, ANU Press 2017) with other leading clinical educators.

She has also worked in human rights in Mexico, specialising in disability and migrant rights, in international development work in East Timor and Indonesia, and for 2 years with the Center for Economic and Social Rights in New York developing their program on the right to health, focussing on mining and human rights issues.  Anna has previously worked with Indigenous women in Alice Springs establishing a domestic violence service, and in community legal education in El Salvador.