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Theatre of the law for Dundee Diploma students

19 September 2013

Students on the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at Dundee University are to gain more realistic training for helping members of the public when they go into practice, through a new partnership between the university and its next door neighbour the Dundee Rep theatre.

The aspiring lawyers will work with actors from the Rep's community company on a range of scenarios designed to prepare them for real-life encounters, from dealing with accident victims to people seeking advice on divorce.

The actors will be given a brief on the reasons they are attending a solicitor and are then encouraged to improvise as much as they want, to set the students a unique challenge.

Each student will go through four sessions with the actors, with the last one recorded on video so they can review how they have coped with the situation.

Funding support for the initiative comes from the Conveyancing Manual Trust, established in 1990 by Professor A J McDonald, Professor of Conveyancing at Dundee for many years, who assigned his entitlement to royalties from the fourth edition of his Conveyancing Manual to the trust.

Elizabeth Comerford, deputy director of the Diploma programme, said it was a core aim of the course to give students confidence to cope with real situations that they would encounter in practice.

"Role-play has long been a part of legal education, but using real actors adds an extra dimension to this that we think the students will find valuable", she commented. "The human side of working face to face with the public is a very important part of work for many people in the legal profession and the students have to be as ready for that as they do for the 'hard' legal matters.

"We are delighted that the Rep, as our next-door neighbours, have agreed to help. It builds on the very good links which have already been established between the two institutions."

Gemma Nicol, acting head of creative learning at the Rep, added: ''This is a fantastic opportunity for our community company and former youth theatre actors to work with the law students on this exciting initiative."

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