Maxine Evers is the Associate Dean (Education).
Her teaching areas are varied and include foundation first year subjects through to the professional Practical Legal Training (PLT) program with a focused interest in ethics, the legal profession and legal education.
Maxine’s background in legal practice enabled her to take up a clinical practitioner position in the Faculty’s Practical Legal Training (PLT) program. She was Program Head of PLT from 2009 to 2011. Maxine currently serves as a member of the Legal Qualifications Committee under the jurisdiction of the NSW Legal Profession Admission Board and the Advisory Panel of ACICIS (Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies) Law Professional Practicum.
Maxine believes in the importance of ethics and its role in professional life. Her teaching and research has a focus on the philosophy and practice of ethics, including the connection between legal education and ethics. Her passion has led her to contribute to the legal profession and legal education through her teaching, research and community engagement. She has served on the NSW Law Society's Costs Working Committee and the NSW Bar Association’s Professional Conduct Committee. Maxine has made submissions to several reviews, including advocates immunity, the Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules, the PLT Competencies and the academic requirements for admission.
Maxine’s commitment to legal education and the student experience is reflected in her roles as Director of Students, First Year Experience Coordinator and Student Ombud. Her contribution in these areas is practice-based and collaborative and includes the Good Practice Guide for the TLO (Threshold Learning Outcome) on ‘Ethics and professional responsibility’ (2011, co-authored) and chapters on the ‘Resolution of Student Grievances within Universities’ in Higher Education and the Law (2015, co-authored) and on ‘Resilience and Wellbeing Programs in PLT’ in Promoting Law Student and Lawyer Wellbeing in Australia and Beyond (2016, co-authored).
- 2012: First Year Experience (FYE) project grant (with Angela Dwyer) - “Monitoring and resourcing of Principals’ Recommendation Scheme (PRS) students to maximise their academic outcomes and their first year experience”
- 2010 UTS Early Researcher Grant (with Sally Varnham and Tracey Booth) – Participative and Restorative Practices in Schools. Download research poster.
- 2008 PPF Grant: PLT - A Decade of Change (with Bronwyn Olliffe and Robyn Pettit)
- 2008 PPF Grant: A History of Legal Ethics
- 2006 LSF grant: "Professional Misconduct"
- 2006 LSF grant: "Putting duty to client ahead of Duty to Court"
- Legal Education
- Ethics & Professional Responsibility
- Dispute Resolution
- Wills & Estates
- Legal Costs
© 2015 The Association of Law Teachers Recently, the debate as to whether ethics should be a compulsory requirement of a law degree was refuelled when the English and Welsh Legal Education Training Review (LETR) recommended that professional ethics should be primarily addressed in vocational Legal Services and Education Training programmes and that learning outcomes in the academic curriculum should include reference to morality and the law, the values supporting the legal system and their connection to the role of lawyers. This debate is also occurring in other jurisdictions. In Australia the debate is focused on the proposal that ethics be removed as a compulsory subject in the law degree. This proposal has raised a concern that law students will be denied the opportunity to develop as ethically competent lawyers. This paper argues for the continuation of ethics as a core component of a law degree and evidences the model used for the teaching of ethics in the law degree at the University of Technology Sydney in support of our argument. The background to the model is examined to highlight the significance of student feedback and ongoing curriculum review, including the alignment of parallel pedagogical factors. This model serves as an example of not only why ethics should be core to a law degree but, in order to provide graduates who are ethical and reflective practitioners, why ethics should be pervasively taught throughout the degree and supported by an introductory and capstone presence.
Evers, M, Olliffe, B & Dwyer, A 2017, 'Law's not hard; it's just hard to get into: A study of alternative entry students to law school', Law Teacher, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 151-169.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2016 The Association of Law Teachers. Widening access to higher education is a challenge currently under discussion in Australia and the United Kingdom. The increasing number of alternative entry programs offered by universities has made tertiary study, including law study, more accessible. One concern with widening access to legal education is the ability of students entering law school through means other than very high academic scores to undertake a law degree successfully. Students who enter law school are generally referred to as 'high achievers', having qualified through an admission policy based on competitive rankings. The implementation of equitable access programs in some Australian universities has resulted in a number of places being made available to final year high school students who meet the eligibility criteria. Lowering the entry requirements to some courses provides opportunities for students whose circumstances have affected their ability to attain competitive ranking scores. The Principals' Recommendation Scheme (PRS) is one of these programs. The University of Technology Sydney in New South Wales, Australia commenced the PRS in 2012. UTS:Law was one of the first Faculties to develop a strategy to support these students. The Faculty is committed to resourcing all students in their study and, as a result, is engaged in the ongoing evaluation of the academic and co-curricular programs provided to students. This paper explains the implementation of the PRS and the relevant support infrastructure available to students. It also considers the research into student retention and academic success and makes a preliminary assessment that, to date, the PRS students are succeeding in the transition from secondary education to law school, and that the existing infrastructure is accommodating the needs of these students. The PRS is an alternative entry scheme that provides a model for consideration by other law schools, committed to widening access to le...
Some New South Wales civil courts have recently introduced electronic filing and online pre-trial appearances. These innovations have different consequences for different users of the civil justice system. Whatever the ostensible benefit, any change to the way our justice system works must enable the purpose for which it exists: access to justice. For practitioners and self-represented litigants who would otherwise travel long distances to attend court, the time and costs savings could be significant. Of course, this intended outcome depends upon the reliability and usability of the technology, as well as the competence of the users. However, for those without these skills or those who do not have access to computers and/or the internet, this change could impede access to justice. It is too early to evaluate the success of this project, but lessons can be drawn from other jurisdictions. This article will explore potential advantages and disadvantages of these changes for self-represented litigants and legal professionals. It will conclude that as technology is disrupting all aspects of our social and commercial arrangements, it is logical that our courts will need to keep up.
Varnham, S, Evers, M, Booth, T & Avgoustinos, C 2015, 'Valuing their Voices: Student Participation in Decision Making in Australian Schools', International Journal of Law and Education, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 1-16.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Third article from ECRG project
Varnham, S, Evers, M, Booth, T & Avgoustinos, C 2014, 'Democracy in Schools: Encouraging Responsibility and citizenship through student participation in school decision making', International Journal of Law and Education, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 73-91.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
What should be the place of children's voices in the running of their schools and in their education? Sadly,
in Australia this question is often overlooked in the shifting sands of education policy. Commonly, state
and federal governments focus on schools solely through a lens of educational attainment. Increasingly,
the emphasis seems to be on the development of the national curriculum, and on the measuring of school
and student performance in public examinations, publicised now on the MySchools website. Meanwhile,
the media often focus on the behavioural problems with which schools are dealing and statistics reveal an
increasing trend towards student disengagement from school through truancy and exclusion. The procedures
for addressing problems, prescribed in policy and legislation, tend to be reactive rather than proactive.
The formulation and establishment of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC)
has led to a mounting global discussion on the rights of children generally. Particularly relevant in the
education context is the right of participation set out in Article 12(1) and the link between the development
of citizenship principles through democratic practices in schools, and nation-building.3 While participatory
and restorative practices in education have been the subject of debate for several decades, and have been
implemented elsewhere, such concepts have been slow to enter public consciousness in Australia. The
teaching of citizenship in schools here has concentrated on civics classroom education. Increasingly though
educators in Australia are taking the initiative in their schools to introduce citizenship by practice and
example within the school structure, by 'doing' rather than just 'teaching'. Many of these practices are
associated with active citizenship and democracy, and are based on participation in decision making in
schools, including in the restoration of interpersonal relationships. Where measures are implemented ...
Varnham, S & Evers, M 2011, 'Are you the person who...? Reflections on the challenges and opportunities of the role of student ombudsmen in an Australian university', Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 228-237.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The feeling is often expressed that there are increasing numbers of students who are less interested in the student experience than in completing their qualifications with the best marks in the shortest possible time. In many instances this translates to a greater readiness to express dissatisfaction when the delivery of a course does not match up to expectations or when there is a perception of having been dealt with unfairly in terms of assessment or in other processes. It is ever more important that universities ensure that their processes and procedures are transparent, fair and consistent, and accommodating of diversity. Student ombudsmen playa vital role in this process, both in their investigations of requests for assistance and in their recommendations on systemic matters. This article considers the challenges faced by the authors in their roles as student ombuds in an Australian university. It contrasts the "last resort" model of student ombud used in that university with models used in other Australian universities and those in comparative jurisdictions, and considers which may be best suited to today's climate of higher education.
Evers, M, Olliffe, BM & Pettit, RK 2011, 'Looking to the past to plan for the future: A decade of practical legal training', The Law Teacher, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 18-44.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The beginning of the twenty-first century has seen significant changes in the legal profession, from the increased use of e-communications and incorporated legal practices, to the internationalisation of lawyers and the globalisation of practice. This raises the question are practical legal training courses providing education that still has value and relevance to students and the profession? Research based on surveying graduates of the Practical Legal Training (PLT) programme at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) was undertaken to assess the value and relevance of our course and to consider what changes, if any, were necessary. The findings confirmed that traditional skills of lawyering and established areas of practice continue to dominate the experience of newly admitted graduates. The findings also indicated there were skills which are not emphasised in our teaching but which were considered important by respondents. The survey also revealed some changes to graduates' career options. This article outlines our research and considers the results within the regulatory framework for the delivery of PLT. We consider that there are some changes to our programme which would improve our graduates' experience in transitioning into their first employment and we suggest that consideration be given to a review of some of the requirements for PLT providers. Our experience is instructive for other providers of practical legal education who may be considering renewal and reform of their courses.
Varnham, S, Booth, T & Evers, M 2011, 'Let's Ask the Kids! - Practising Citizenship and Democracy in Australian Schools', International Journal of Law and Education, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 73-91.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
LetS ask the kids-yeah right! The focus of this article is a research project being undertaken in Australia which considers participative and restorative practices in New South Wales schools. Jt looks at the research inspiring this project which points to the part democratic principles may play in the engagement of children and young people in their schools and their education, and the development of citizenship principles which they take outside their school gates. This research considers the meaningful participation of children and young people in decision making in schools: its implementation, and its effectiveness and impact on school communities. Citizenship and democracy are about relationships, participation, rights and responsibility. In Australia and New Zealand, and comparative jurisdictions, the debate concerning the teaching of citizenship in schools has traditionally been centred on the extent to which civics education should be included in the school curriculum. In recent years the debate has widened to a more holistic view of citizenship or democracy in schools, from the restrictive approach of classroom learning only, to embrace teaching by practice and example within the school structure. Schools have a unique opportunity not only to teach democratic principles and values but also to reinforce and demonstrate that teaching by their practices and procedures. The model presented by a school provides a crucial template for the value system which students live by for the rest of their lives.
Stewart, PE & Evers, M 2010, 'The Requirement that Lawyers Certify Reasonable Prospects of Success:Must 21st Century Lawyers Boldly Go where No Lawyer has Gone Before?', Legal Ethics, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 1-38.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
There is a growing trend in Australia to require lawyers to certify reasonable prospects of success for the cases they bring and defend. New South Wales has led the way with the Legal Profession Act 2004 (NSW) Pt 3.2 Division 10 requiring legal practitioners to certify reasonable prospects of success in all claims for damages. The requirement places a significant onus on lawyers to make a judgment about the merits of a case before it is begun, yet the common law has long provided mechanisms to ensure that cases without prospects of success do not go to trial. This article considers Australian legislative provisions requiring lawyers to certify reasonable prospects of success of cases. It examines the application of the NSW legislation by the courts highlighting the difficulties of interpretation of what constitute 'reasonable prospects of success' and the application of the legislation in the context of the dynamic litigation process. It is argued that these legislated obligations on lawyers will have a detrimental effect on access to justice by denying parties, in particular plaintiffs, the opportunity to have their cases properly and fully determined in the courts. This article examines common law mechanisms for dissuading cases without prospects and argues that the general law is an effective system for ensuring that cases without prospects of success are not maintained. The Australian experience is instructive for consideration of optimal reform packages for the administration of justice and to evaluate the role of any litigation lawyer within the judicial and court process.
Varnham, S & Evers, M 2009, 'Secular, Singular and self-expression: Religious freedom in Australian and New Zealand education', Irish Educational Studies, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 279-296.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Religious diversity in Australian and New Zealand Education
Recent cases involving in-house and external lawyers have attracted much media attention, from the C7litigation to the AWB Inquiry. Some of the media commentary and judicial remarks were directed at the role of the internal legal advisers in the conduct of the parties, both before and during litigation. The cases acknowledge the challenges faced by in-house counsel where the duty to client is blended with loyalty to the employer. The requirement for independence is a fundamental principle of the legal profession. The increasing use of in-house counsel challenges this principle. The conflict faced by in-house counsel is predominant in claims for privilege. This article examines the scope for privilege to be claimed in respect of communications involving in-house counsel.
Evers, M 2009, 'Overcharging:Are there different rules for solicitors and barristers?', Precedent, vol. 94, pp. 36-39.
Evers, M 2009, 'The ethics of collaborative practice', Current Family Law, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 139-148.
Evers, M 2008, 'Legal costs and the duty of disclosure', Precedent, vol. Issue 87, no. Issue 87, pp. 10-14.
Collaborative practice is emerging as a legitimate option in family law disputes. Its impressive growth over almost two decades indicates that it is likely to continue as a form of dispute resolution, both in terms of the numbers of practitioners and clients practising under the collaborative law framework and the expansion of areas of law suited to this process. One of the fundamental principles of collaborative practice is the engagement of professionals to assist and support the parties in resolving disputes. This article considers the role of legal and non-legal professionals in collaborative practice. An analysis and assessment of ethical issues in collaborative practice demonstrates the benefits of an ethical framework for a coherent set of protocols based on both lawyers' and non-lawyers' common objectives and shared values. The article concludes with a recommendation that there needs to be continuing discussion concerning the intersection of ethics and collaborative practice.
Children negotiate on a daily basis with parents, teachers and their peers. Their need and ability to learn negotiation skills has increased in acceptance. Programs, such as anti-bullying and peer mediation, are provided by many schools. Do children have the capacity to understand the process of negotiation? Can we provide a framework in which negotiating can be learned and practised in a safe and nurturing environment?
Varnham, S & Evers, M 2017, 'Australia: Constitutional responses to religious rights' in Meix Cereceda, P & de Groof, J (eds), Religious and Ideological Rights in Education: judicial perspectives from 32 legal systems, wolf Legal Publishers, The Netherlands, pp. 487-500.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Religion has played a significant role in the education of young people in Australia from the early days of British settlement. During the 18th and 19th centuries, in addition to the arrival of colonists, Australia's settlement was characterised by the transportation of huge numbers of convicts from Great Britain. The education of the children of these convicts and poorer settlers was largely seen as a function of the churches.
A compulsory and secular system of government schooling was introduced in Australia in the second half of the 19th century. Despite this, non-government and predominantly religious schools within the Catholic systemic education system, continue to play an important role in the education of young Australians. Controversially they receive a significant amount of Commonwealth government funding. In 2016 more than 765,000 students (one in every five students across Australia) are educated in Catholic schools.
The primary purpose of this article is to discuss the cases which have asked the High Court of Australia to consider the constitutional validity, of this funding and of the funding of a religious-based program within schools.
We begin however by considering the place of religion generally within Australia's 'secular' education system. Australian society generally, as elsewhere, is confronted with issues relating to freedom from religion and freedom of religion. Australian schooling is not immune from these issues and there are many indications that this tension is increasing as Australia becomes more and more multi-cultural and multi-ethnic , and each group is understandably concerned to educate their children within their own religious beliefs and convictions, and to protect them from other, or any, religious influences. Australian courts and tribunals have seen only a 'sprinkling' of matters in the education context, largely concerning freedom from religion in government schools. At their heart they questio...
Evers, M & Bourke, J 2016, 'Resilience and Wellbeing Programmes: The Practical Legal Training Experience' in Field, R, Duffy, J & James, C (eds), Promoting Law Student and Lawyer Well-Being in Australia and Beyond, Routledge, Abingdon, UK.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Research and literature concerning the need for resilience education and wellbeing programs for law students and lawyers is well established. The impact for law schools in responding, has meant, in part, a move away from the entrenched teaching method. The core business of legal education traditionally focused on knowledge within the discipline of law. In more recent times, the development of skills and most recently, the introduction of resilience and wellbeing training, has followed.
Legal education leading to admission to practise law includes a final component of practical legal training (PLT). Although the duration of PLT is significantly shorter that academic study, the role of PLT is an important one. It is here that students build on their legal knowledge, skills and values to transition from student to practitioner.
This chapter discusses the role of PLT in legal education, with particular reference to resilience and wellbeing programs developed by two PLT providers. The outcomes for graduates and the challenges for PLT providers in relation to training students are also considered.
Stuhmcke, AG, Olliffe, B & Evers, M 2015, 'Resolution of Student Grievances Within Universities' in Varnham, S, Kamvounias, P & Squelch, J (eds), Higher Education and the Law, Federation Press, Leichhardt, pp. 114-124.
This book is the first in Australia dedicated to the legal environment of our universities. The law both drives and governs the evolution of Australia's strong and vibrant system of higher education. Here, experts explore a wide range of areas of topical and salient interest, providing a comprehensive resource for those both within and outside the sector, including managers, governors, academics, legal practitioners and all who have an interest in the impact of the law on its operations.
While their primary function today remains the provision of higher education and research, Australia's universities are now large commercial global corporations. Their operations involve the management of a diverse range of relationships, both internal and external, and the law plays a central role in these. Higher Education and the Law first considers the legal framework of the higher education sector and the relationships universities have externally, particularly with government – their governance, their funding and accountability, and their maintenance of high standards and quality. It then traverses many of the areas where the law has a significant impact on the relationships universities have with their students and their staff.
In a clear and readable style, the book covers matters from anti-discrimination and equal opportunity, transparency and due process in decision-making, employment and student matters, to property rights such as copyright and ownership of intellectual property. It focuses on those issues of the most practical relevance to today's higher education environment.
Varnham, S, Stuhmcke, AG, Olliffe, BM, Kamvounias, P & Evers, M 2013, 'Different Country, different hemisphere - same challenges: the student and the Australian University', Annual Conference of ENOHE/OIAHE, St Catherine's College, Oxford, UK.
Varnham, S, Evers, M & Booth, T 2012, 'Valuing their voices: responsibility and retention through student participation in school decision making', Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, de Mountfort University, Leicester, UK.
Annual conference of Socio-Legal Studies Association. Dissemination of ECRG Research project
Varnham, S & Evers, M 2011, 'Are you the person who? Reflections on the challenges and opportunities of the role of student ombudsmen in an Australian University', European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education, Madrid, Spain.
Paper later published in International Journal for Law and Education
Varnham, S & Evers, M 2008, 'Secular, Singular or Self-expression? Religious Freedom in schools in Australia and New Zealand', Achieving Excellence: Lawyers and Educators working together, Achieving Excellence: Lawyers and Educators working together, Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association (ANZELA), Christchurch, New Zealand, pp. 255-278.
Bound collection of conference papers - 463 pages