Building reflective practice and resilience: Using peer performance reviews in clinical legal education to prepare interns for real world appraisals

Jocelyn Milne, Tania Leiman

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    This presentation reports on the use of peer performance reviews at the Flinders Legal Advice Clinic to build reflective practice and workplace resilience.
    The requirement to work closely in teams with others, on complex legal matters, under tight deadlines and to meet exacting standards of supervision present challenges for most people. This work environment is nevertheless a reality for many lawyers and legal professionals. Many law students, however, and especially those from non-traditional backgrounds, have little experience of working in such a professional environment. These demands, their interactions with supervisors and colleagues and the workplace culture can be as much of a shock and pressure as the nature of the work required to be undertaken. Students’ own perception of their strengths or weaknesses may not coincide with the perceptions colleagues have of them. Difficulties in managing interpersonal workplace relationships may be magnified where students are not provided with a structured way to reflect on their own and their peers’ performance.
    Recognising this, in March 2015, Flinders Legal Advice Clinic instituted a program of peer performance reviews designed to allow student interns to reflect on their own participation in the clinic and to provide feedback and suggestions for areas of development to their peers. The aim of this program was not only to allow students to reflect on their own performance and possible areas of challenge and improvement, but also to gain understanding of the perception others had of them. Believing that it is important for our own wellbeing that we recognise how we are perceived by others, the program was designed to provide for honest appraisals in a safe and supported environment, and to give students an experience that could build their resilience when encountering actual appraisals in current or future legal workplaces. Peer performance reviews take place initially in week 3 of the internship and then again at its conclusion. Students are asked to respond online to questions about professionalism, commitment, drafting ability and care, teamwork, reliability, and independence. The clinic supervisor collates individual and peer responses and then discusses these in structured one-on-one interviews with each intern. The program has been conducted across 4 semesters in 2015 and 2016. Feedback from interns has shown how valuable this process has been in helping them recognise their strengths and weaknesses, areas for potential improvement, and strategies that they can use to overcome challenges.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017
    EventThe International Journal of Clinical Legal Education Conference 2017: Bringing it all together: Clinical Legal Educators in the 21st Century University - University of Northumbria, Newcastle, United Kingdom
    Duration: 3 Jul 20175 Jul 2017


    ConferenceThe International Journal of Clinical Legal Education Conference 2017
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • legal education
    • peer performance reviews
    • interns


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