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Extending and Enhancing Realism to Legal Education at the University of Hong Kong


Following on from its previous 2012/13 TDG project, the Department of Professional Legal Education continue its efforts in enriching students’ learning experience through (i) SMILE, an enhanced simulation e-learning platform for transactional learning built on the idea of SimPLE (Simulated Professional Learning Environment) but linked and integrated with the use of MOODLE interfaces; and (ii) standardized clients (SCs) who are individuals lay to the discipline but after receiving standardisation training play the role of clients in interviews. A total of over 330 law students (PCLL and LLB together) have had wider learning experience through one of the two pedagogies or both. Students’ evaluation shows that in general they treasure highly the enriched learning experience. Particularly with regard to SCs, our analysis of data not only confirms the reliability and validity of using SCs as teachers and assessors of communicative competence, but also reveals the influence of cultural particularities over the performance and learning experience of law students. A Chinese version of the assessment rubrics on law students’ communicative competence has been devised and we are developing, initially through telephone survey over users, a set of Hong Kong-specific rubrics that fit the unique local context.

Principal Investigator

Mr. W.S. Chow, Department of Professional Legal Education, Faculty of LawContact

Project level

Faculty-level project

Project Completion

August 2014


    1. The SMILE courses: (a) The SMILE site: http://smile.law.hku.hk for PCLL8109 Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning [Section 2A, 2013]; (b) MOODLE course for LLAW3072 Principles of Taxation on Income in Hong Kong [Section 1A, 2013].  Please contact Mr. W.S. Chow of Department of Professional Legal Education, Faculty of Law, by email (wschow@hku.hk) if you are interested in accessing the course website or obtaining more information of this project.
    2. Assessment rubrics for interviews with SCs Download
    3. User survey for developing a set of HK-specific assessment rubrics Download
    4. Students’ Evaluation Tool (Standardized Clients and SMILE) Download
    5. Conference / Seminar presentations Download
      1. “Education without the Law – Lay Clients as Teachers and Assessors in Communication Skills in Hong Kong”, presented at the 2014 Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference at University of Nottingham on 11 September 2014
      2. A CETL seminar preliminarily scheduled to be held on 25 November 2014

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