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Ms Rachel Spencer 

Position: Director: Professional Programs Ms Rachel Spencer
Division/Portfolio: University of South Australia Business School
School/Unit: School of Law
Campus: City West Campus
Office: LB2-02B
Telephone: +61 8 830 27946
Fax: +61 8 830 27128
Email: Rachel_dot_Spencer_at_unisa_dot_edu_dot_au
URL for Business Card: http://people.unisa.edu.au/Rachel.Spencer

Other Contacts

Mrs Julie Watt, Legal Advice Clinic Administration Officer: (08) 8302 9959 (Wednesdays and Thursdays only)

Ms Rachel Spencer is the Director: Professional Programs at the University of South Australia’s School of Law, where she teaches Civil Procedure; Lawyers, Ethics and Society; Law, Art and Literature and a clinical legal education course called Legal Professional and Community Service Experience. Rachel is also responsible for the Legal Advice Clinic, where final year law students (under supervision) provide free legal advice to members of the public.

Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA), a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Master of Laws (LLM) from the University of Adelaide, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the South Australian Institute of Technology, a Master of Creative Arts (MCA) from Flinders University and is currently undertaking a PhD in creative writing at the same institution. She also has a Graduate Certificate in Education (Academic Practice) from UniSA.

Rachel has extensive experience in the legal profession, having practised in a variety of areas of law, including commercial dispute resolution, insurance, insolvency, criminal law, family law, intellectual property and disputed estates. She has been in-house counsel in the wine industry, a corporate solicitor in the radio broadcasting sector, a senior associate of a major Adelaide law firm, a Governor of the State Theatre Company of SA, the Chair of the Australasian Professional Legal Education Council (APLEC) and the Director of Practical Legal Training at Flinders University. She has appeared as counsel in Magistrates, District, Supreme, Industrial and Family courts, and is a member of the Law Society of South Australia and the Australian Law Teachers Association.

Rachel’s current research interests include legal ethics, clinical legal education, experiential learning, the links between law, literature and popular culture, how media representations of lawyers (both real and fictional) affect access to justice, and the role of narrative in the adversarial system. Rachel has published various books, book chapters and journal articles on a variety of areas of law, legal ethics and legal education, and in 2012 she received an Excellence in Teaching Award from UniSA.

Links to other sites

Legal Advice Clinic

Linked-in Profile

My book: Property Law Practice SA

Article about Clinic in UniSA News

Quoted in The West Australian, 18 July 2014

Teaching interests

  • Professional Conduct & Legal Ethics
  • Clinical Legal Education
  • Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution
  • Work Integrated Learning
  • Professional Writing Skills and Legal Drafting
  • Legal Skills (Interviewing, Negotiation, Drafting, Advocacy)
  • Placement preparation
  • Access to Justice
  • Lawyers and the Media

I teach the following courses

LAWS 4006Lawyers, Ethics and Society
LAWS 4002Civil Procedure
LAWS 4007Lawyers, Ethics and Society (Advanced: Clinical Placement)

Professional associations

Law Society of South Australia

Australian Law Teachers Association

Australian Collaborative Education Network


BA(Adel; LLB(Adel); GDLP(SAIT); LLM(Adel); MCA (Creative Writing)(Flinders); GCE (Academic Practice) (UniSA)

Research interests

  • Work Integrated Learning & Practical Legal Skills
  • Professional Conduct & Legal Ethics
  • Law and Literature
  • Clinical Legal Education
  • Access to Justice
  • Lawyers and Popular Media

Research publications

Emily Perry: evil poisoner or typecast female accused? (Conference paper) presented at the Australia and New Zealand Law and History Society Conference held at the University of Adelaide on 10-12 December 2015.

Hell is other people: Contemplating Seligman on Sartre (conference paper)presented at the Australasian Law Teachers Association (ALTA) Conference 2015 held at La Trobe University, Melbourne, 17-18 July 2015.

Private lives: Confronting the inherent difficulties of reflective writing in clinical legal education, 21 International Journal of Clinic Legal Education available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2531216

“First they tell us to ignore our emotions, then they tell us to reflect”: The development of a reflective writing pedagogy in clinical legal education through an analysis of student perceptions of reflective writing’, 21 International Journal of Clinic Legal Education available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2531215

Do Members of the Public Have a ‘Right to Know’ about Similar Fact Evidence? The Emily Perry Story and the ‘Right to Know’ in the Context of a Fair Re-Trial. (2014) Oñati Socio-legal Series [online], 4 (4), 740-760. Available from: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2507139

The Role of Media Discourses in Undermining Trust in the Legal Profession, in Discourses of Trust, Candlin, C. and Chrichton, J. Eds, Palgrave Macmillan (2013).

Holding Up the Mirror: A theoretical and practical analysis of the role of reflection in Clinical Legal Education, International Journal of Clinical Legal Education 18, 181 – 216 (2012).

'Legal Ethics and the Media: Are the Ethics of Lawyers and Journalists Irretrievably at Odds?' in Legal Ethics, Volume 15, Part 1 (Hart Publishing, 2012).

Doing Good by Stealth: Professional Ethics and Moral Choices in The Verdict and Regarding Henry in 'Alternative Perspectives on Lawyers and Legal Ethics', Routledge, 2011.

Book Review: Inside Lawyers' Ethics, 2010 12 Flinders Law Journal 173.

What can Hollywood teach us about legal ethics? This is an on-line continuing professional development teaching module, available at http://www.lawcpd.com.au/product/what-can-hollywood-teach-us-about-legal-ethics

It's The Vibe: The impact of the lawyer's image on access to justice, Law Society Bulletin, Volume 31, Issue 11, December 2009.

The work-life balance cliche: An ethical issue, Law Society Bulletin, October 2009.

Property Law Practice: A Handbook for Lawyers and Conveyancers, Presidian Legal Publications, 2009.

'Placements': Opinion Column, Law Society Bulletin, 2008. This article was awarded "Opinion of the Year" at the Annual Law Society Bulletin Article of the Year Awards, December 2009.

Your Place or Mine? Evaluating the perspectives of the PLT work experience placement through the eyes of the supervisors and the students, International Education Journal, 2007, 8(2), 365-376. ISSN 1443-1475; http://iej.com.au

Your Place or Mine? Evaluating the perspectives of the Practical Legal Training work experience Placement through the eyes of the supervisors and the students, Law Society Bulletin, July 2007.

From Atticus Finch to Dennis Denuto: Using Popular Media to Teach Legal Skills & Ethics, published conference papers, Australian Law Teachers Association: http://www.alta.edu.au/2006_published_conference_papers.html

Elegance and Relevance: Plain English from a Student Perspective, LSP and Professional Communication, Volume 6, Number 2, October 2006. ISSN 1601-1929

Skills Teaching at Flinders: Teaching Legal Skills – an integrated program, (2002) Flinders Journal of Law Reform.

The Adelaide Magistrates Court Legal Advice Clinic – An intimate look into how it was set up and how it operates, (2002) Newcastle Law Review Volume 6 No 2.

PLT – The wheel has turned and is gaining momentum, Law Society Bulletin, July 2001.

Teaching Cross Cultural Issues in PLT, Continuing Legal Education Association of Australasia newsletter, August 2002.

Expertise for Media Contact

I am able to provide media comment in the following areas of expertise:

Discipline: Law

  • Legal ethics
  • Legal education
  • Interaction between lawyers and media
  • Civil Procedure
  • Access to Justice

Community Service

Organisation Name:   National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters
Section:   Regional Advisory Council
Type of Organisation:   Professional organisation
Organisation URL:   http://www.naati.com.au/home_page.html
Level of involvement:   Member
Year from:   2013

Organisation Name:   Graduate Women (SA) Inc.
Section:   Trust
Type of Organisation:   Community organisation
Level of involvement:   Trustee
Year from:   1995

Organisation Name:   State Theatre Company of South Australia
Section:   Board of Governors
Type of Organisation:   Government Board or committee
Level of involvement:   Governor
Year from:   2003
Year to:   2007

Organisation Name:   Environmental Defenders Office
Section:   Board
Type of Organisation:   Community organisation
Level of involvement:   Board member
Year from:   2001
Year to:   2003

Organisation Name:   Australasian Professional Legal Education Council
Type of Organisation:   Professional organisation
Level of involvement:    Chair
Year from:   2005
Year to:   2007

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