Creating a New Law School Curriculum

I somehow managed to finish my PhD! 😄🎉

I wouldn’t have been able to make it without the great assistance of Adelaide Law School and the tireless effort of my supervisors, Professors Paul Babie and Peter Burdon.

It’s been a great journey getting to this point and finding different ways to include the humanities and issues of justice in the Australian law school curriculum. There is so much potential to change things for the better.

Full text (Free PDF): Link.

Paperback: Link.


Eat law, talk law, think law, drink law, babble of law and judgments in your sleep. Pickle yourselves in law—it is your only hope.

Karl N Llewellyn, The Bramble Bush[1]

Debates regarding the purpose of legal education have occurred for centuries.[2] Typically, these debates fall into one of three perspectives: firstly, that law should be taught as a liberal art or social science that is part of a wider study of politics, philosophy and history;[3] secondly, that law should be taught as a vocation or trade that prepares students for their future jobs as lawyers;[4] thirdly, that law should be taught as a combination of the first two, in which vocational training is embedded in a ‘soft skills’ curriculum of liberal arts electives, critical thinking and critical values (e.g., ethics and public service).[5]

The aim of this thesis is to investigate the adoption of a liberal arts approach to legal education in Australia. To do so, this thesis considers alternative, diffuse ideas of teaching law as a liberal art that have arisen from both historical examples and modern innovations, along with ideas from modern pedagogical theory, humanities educational theory and critiques of legal education by past and present students. Specifically, this thesis proposes alternative teaching methods, assessments and subject lists that differ from a traditionally vocational orthodoxy. It concludes with the proposal of a new law school curriculum—one that has been rebuilt from its foundation to focus on a humanities-based learning experience that is empowered by the latest technology and teaching methods. This curriculum will aim to broaden, not narrow, student learning.

In this Introduction, core concepts will be introduced and defined, including the concepts of doctrinal knowledge, vocationalism and the liberal arts and sciences. This section begins by explaining how and why Australian law schools teach law in a vocational manner, and it investigates the limitations of vocational teaching. The thesis later substantiates how neoliberal economics has come to correlate with a rise in a vocational style of education in law schools. Finally, this Introduction concludes by outlining the arguments and solutions that have been proposed in this thesis.

  1. The Dominance of Doctrine

Law schools in Australia have taught law in a ‘doctrinal’ and/or ‘vocational’ manner for much of their modern history.[6] It is important to define these two terms in the context of legal education. In some cases, the two terms can be and are used interchangeably; however, in other, and this thesis will argue, more crucial cases, the two terms must be kept distinct. The concept of ‘doctrinal’ used in this thesis refers to the learning of existing systems or rules, such as the system of precedent or the case method.[7] Doctrinal also refers to black-letter law or the study of law as a science unto itself, without any contextual information on the origin or effect of law on society.[8] In contrast, the concept of ‘vocational’ in this thesis refers to teaching law for the purpose of job training or helping students become future lawyers.[9]

A vocational education can be taught by way of doctrine, in which the doctrine focuses on skills or knowledge essential to students who are entering the legal profession. For example, doctrinal knowledge can include legal principles that can be applied to a real-life client’s factual circumstances.[10] However, doctrinal education can also extend beyond mere vocational skills to a highly theoretical realm that is somewhat impractical for the daily job of a lawyer (e.g., discussing legal principles in the abstract).[11] Further, doctrine can also be taught in a manner that extends beyond deductive and inductive reasoning altogether, in which even ‘non-legal’ theoretical questions are considered in class (as they are nevertheless questions of doctrine).[12]

In contrast, vocational education focuses on producing future lawyers by teaching students skills that can be used in the job (e.g., legal research and other specialist skills required in the profession of law).[13] These skills can relate to general legal practice, but they can also extend to public service and corollary professional responsibilities and duties.[14] In this way, vocational education can also prompt types of thinking regarding ethics and responsibility that may not arise in a doctrinal educational framework. It can be concluded that although vocational and doctrinal educational frameworks can often overlap, they differ in distinct ways that can lead to diverse educational outcomes (depending on which framework is prioritised).

Various academics, including Margaret Thornton, Martha Nussbaum, Nick James and Lawrence Busch, have argued that doctrinal and vocational education frameworks, when taught on their own, are detrimental to students, graduates and greater society.[15] Their arguments can be categorised into three beliefs: first, that vocational education does not meet its own premise of preparing students for future jobs, as most law students do not enter the legal profession;[16] second, that doctrinal and/or vocational education leads students away from other areas of knowledge (e.g., social justice, critical thinking, the humanities, ethics and the liberal arts);[17] third, that doctrinal and/or vocational education entrenches social hierarchies and prevents students from becoming actively engaged in their communities as democratic citizens.[18] Each of these arguments will be addressed in the subsections below.

  1. a) The Myth of ‘Future Lawyers’

First, it should be stated that the belief that law schools exist to prepare all, or even most, law students for future jobs as lawyers is statistically inaccurate. Less than 50 per cent of Australian law graduates enter the legal profession.[19] After five years, a further 50 per cent leave their law careers in major law firms due to high staff turnover rates.[20] In other words, most law graduates will eventually work in an area other than legal practice five years after graduating from law school.[21] Part of the reason for this is the oversupply of law graduates.[22] Each year, approximately 12,000 students graduate from Australian law schools (or 7,583 students, if practical legal training and graduate students are excluded).[23] They enter a job market that permits only 60,000 working lawyers.[24] Simply stated, there are not enough law jobs for all law students to practice law. The boom of law schools over the past 30 years has contributed to this professional graduate glut. In the 1980s, only 12 law schools existed in Australia; presently, there are over 38—or 44, if accounting for universities with more than one campus (e.g., James Cook, Deakin, Notre Dame and the Australian Catholic University).[25]

Teaching a vocational training in law might thus not adequately prepare students for their actual future jobs. If law schools aim to prepare students for their future careers, then law schools should broaden their education to adequately accommodate other professions that law students may enter into such as politics, the media and business.[26]

  • b) Vocation as a Conversion Process

The second argument against vocational education in law schools is that it leads students away from other areas of knowledge, including their own interests. This argument is supported by the relevant statistics. When law students are surveyed in their first year, they indicate a greater concern for public service, charity and human rights.[27] However, by the end of their degrees, the same students indicate a greater concern for employment, money and prestige.[28] In other words, law school changes their convictions. Anthony Kronman recognised this trend in the United States (US) as early as the 1990s.[29] He contended that a law graduate in the 1990s would become much more concerned with being an ‘expert in law’ rather than with committing his or her time to public service or charity.[30] Students began demanding more corporate law electives rather than electives in social justice and human rights.[31]

At least one academic has warned students against attending law school altogether if they care about social justice.[32] In a document titled ‘For Those Considering Law School’,Dean Spade warned that law school is ‘a very conservative training and rarely a critical intellectual experience’.[33] He argued that by the time students graduated, they would have been transformed, taught to entrench existing systems of ‘maldistribution’.[34] The curriculum, by design, compels this through a vocational focus:

Law school is like a language immersion program, but one in which the language you are learning is the language of rationalizing white supremacy, settler colonialism, patriarchy and capitalism.The traditional pedagogy of law school relies on humiliating students if they bring in other ways of thinking or knowing about the world, thereby whittling them down to a shadow of their former selves and reshaping them to make them think inside a very narrow box.[35]

Students have raised similar concerns in the Australian context in recent years and have urged law faculties to revise the content, style and direction of legal education.[36] Many have argued that legal education should move beyond vocational training and become more human centred and empathetic; it should encompass greater goals of public service, charity and human rights, as well as teach critical racial, gender and identity theories.[37] The Breaking the Frozen Sea report, written by law students at Australian National University (ANU) in 2010, is one example of a thorough, wide-ranging critique.[38] The report’s four authors argued that law at ANU is being taught in a detached way, in which students learn to separate their own concerns about morality, ethics and social problems from the cases they study.[39] In their words:

We discovered that the ‘law’ was a series of rules, handed down by old men on the bench to lawyers who ‘neutrally’ applied it. Law school was a process of learning and memorizing what ‘is’—not dreaming of what could be, not arguing for what should be. Our lived experiences were irrelevant to our learning. Law hovered in a strange vacuum, outside of society, culture, politics, and even history.[40]

The official faculty response to the Breaking the Frozen Sea report was critical, with few concessions.[41] An ANU faculty committee tasked with reviewing the report found that it reflected an unrepresentative proportion of students’ views.[42] By contrast, the report had surveyed 350 students, with a further 60 students and faculty members being consulted.[43] The faculty’s committee described the report as ‘outdated’ and disagreed that the ANU Law School only focused on commercial law alone.[44] However, a significant concession was made. ANU Law School acknowledged that ‘a commercial legal practice paradigm dominates the curriculum’, according to some academics.[45] The faculty also acknowledged the importance of improving legal education,[46] and specific mention was made regarding improving student mental health and wellbeing.[47]

One ANU academic, Bruce Baer Arnold, further suggested that the students’ report was underwhelming and unoriginal.[48] He contended that the authors of the report were ‘self-involved, naive and aimless princesses’ with ‘collective angst’, and he wished that fewer such students attended his law school.[49] Arnold also claimed that the central contention of the report—that law schools produced hierarchy, privilege and a focus on private practice—was not a unique finding, and that it did not indicate how students may themselves be facilitating this hierarchical process.[50] Arnold finally suggested that the report highlighted more problems than it solved, and that the problems were not as significant as the authors believed them to be.[51]

  • c) Vocation as Training for Hierarchy

The third argument against vocational legal education is that it might entrench hierarchies. Duncan Kennedy famously proposed this argument in a self-published ‘polemic’ against US law schools in the 1960s.[52] Kennedy’s view will be discussed in further detail below, including its application in the Australian context. In brief, he argued that law school involves a process of preparing students for their future role in the market as enforcers of the status quo—as guardians of hierarchical injustices.[53] As an example, he noted how law students were not confronted by questions of class, gender and racial inequalities in the classroom, even though these inequalities lie at the heart of the law.[54] Instead, students were taught an apolitical understanding of the law, in which judicial decision-making occurs devoid of any political context.[55] Similarly, law professors rarely, if ever, revealed their true political leanings in the classroom.[56]

Similar work on hierarchy has been written since Kennedy’s polemic. Dean Spade, for instance, suggested that ‘most legal work maintains systems of maldistribution’.[57] Becoming a lawyer is more likely to aid the status quo in society rather than to lead to broad, revolutionary changes to institutional racism, inequality and other issues.[58] Law schools typically train students in conservative modes of thinking by prioritising the memorisation of rules over critical thinking.[59] In Spade’s view, ‘No one exits law school without having been changed and conservatized at least a bit’.[60] He affirms that ‘it took years of social movement engagement for [him] to shed some of the internalized dominance behaviors [that he] gained in law school’.[61]

When neoliberal values are prioritised above everything else in law school, then questions about distribution and social equality are ignored.[62] As one example, South Africa had great economic metrics during the apartheid, but it was also rife with injustices. Considering economics alone is thus not enough to determine whether a legal order is successful.[63] Instead, law students should receive a broad and critical education in the political and empathetic side of the law.[64] They must ‘deliberate well about political issues’, ‘think about the good of the nation as a whole’ and, crucially, ‘have concern for the lives of others’ rather than just for themselves.[65]

  • 2) The Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

A vocational education in law can be contrasted to the opposing idea of pursuing learning or knowledge, for its own sake.[66] This is typically known as a liberal arts education or an education in the liberal arts and/or social sciences.[67] It is important here to briefly define what these two concepts mean, for they are often used synonymously. In this thesis, a liberal arts education refers to a broad-minded, interdisciplinary education of a non-vocational nature that is mostly understood to include subjects from the humanities (e.g., history, philosophy and literature).[68] Note here that although these subjects are often defined as non-vocational, they do have career outcomes (i.e., students can become historians, philosophers or novelists). However, a liberal arts education is considered an interdisciplinary activity in which students use their base subject not necessarily as an end point for a career, but as a launching pad from which to investigate broader questions that extend across multiple disciplines.[69] To create a liberal arts curriculum is to create a curriculum full of these ‘big questions’ that students must confront.[70] As Roche elucidated:

Even as students bring great questions with them to college, the university cultivates in them a curiosity about questions they had yet to consider: Why are there wars? What is the highest good? Is it better to suffer or to commit an injustice? What are the best conditions for human flourishing? What are the defining characteristics of the just state, and how might we most effectively change our state to approximate that ideal? What are the great artworks of the ages?[71]

The term ‘liberal arts’ is often used synonymously with the term ‘social science’—or, more accurately, it is understood to include the social sciences.[72] If liberal arts is interdisciplinary by nature and extends to ‘knowing the best which has been thought and uttered in the world’, then it would, by nature, include ‘a free and right use of reason and [the] scientific method’, which includes humanities subjects that use the scientific method of research.[73] However, this definition of a liberal arts education is so broad that it would include vocational topics that are not necessarily interdisciplinary (e.g., the best business thoughts of all time). For greater clarity, a line can be drawn between the liberal arts and the social sciences by defining what is meant by the term ‘social sciences’.

In this thesis, the term ‘social sciences’ refers to subjects in the humanities that combine a close study of society with the scientific methods of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.[74] This includes subjects such as political science, economics, anthropology, sociology, psychology and geography, among others.[75] What unites these subjects as social science subjects (as opposed to liberal arts subjects) is a focus on ‘contemporary human societies, economies, organizations and cultures’, understood through the systematic collection of data and information.[76] The ‘science’ aspect is evidenced in the theories or model hypotheses that are tested against the qualitative and/or quantitative data collected.[77]

It should also be noted here that the social sciences are closely related to the liberal arts. In some ways, they can even be considered a subset of the liberal arts educational philosophy, as they also prompt students to consider ‘big’, interdisciplinary questions about human society.[78] The topics of these questions can range from ‘how our own society works—from the causes of unemployment or what helps economic growth, to how and why people vote, or what makes people happy’.[79] For example, Nicholas Christakis, a professor of medical sociology at Harvard, combines his medical and sociological interests to question ‘how the social becomes biological’.[80] He does so ‘to explain, for instance, the evolutionary basis for phenomena such as emotional contagion (the way one person’s mood can “rub off” onto another)’.[81]

The concept of a liberal arts education is still contested in terms of its modern definition. As such, an exploration of the definition’s history could offer greater clarity.[82] The concept of a liberal education—that is, a broad-minded, multidisciplinary education that goes beyond vocational goals alone—dates as far back as the ancient Chinese and ancient Greeks.[83] In ancient China, both Confucian educational philosophy (551–479 BCE) and traditional Chinese higher education (771–221 BCE) emphasised education as a ‘broad understanding of knowledge’ that ranged across different fields and that included moral and philosophical ideals at its core.[84] For example, Confucius believed that education was a way to ‘cultivate and develop human nature so that virtue and wisdom and ultimately moral perfection would be attained’.[85] Similarly, several of the ancient Greeks (e.g., Socrates and Cicero, in the tradition of the sophists) believed that a broad-minded education should be embedded in the humanities and that excellence should be pursued beyond just a narrow specialist and vocational goal.[86] For example, Cicero outlined an artes liberalis education that included ‘the study of music, literature and poetry, natural science, ethics and political science’.[87] However, in both ancient China and ancient Greece, a liberal education was also often linked to the vocational goal of crafting political leaders or public servants.[88] To varying degrees, through the ancient Chinese civil service examinations and the ancient Greek political system of democracy (which eliminated aristocracy in place of civic leaders), a liberal arts education (no matter how broad-minded) was considered a means to a vocational end.[89] It was believed that someone who trained broadly in either cultural or moral terms would be well placed to serve in the civic roles of their society.[90] However, this should not undervalue the fact that this type of education was still interdisciplinary in nature and drew directly from topics in the humanities.[91]

In the common-law legal educational context, the concept of a broad-minded, liberal education based on moral or cultural ideals would surface again in the seventeenth-century in England. Specifically, a liberal education was taught at the Inns of Court in London from the 1680s, aiming to transform law students into ‘gentlemen’.[92] A gentleman’s education involved more than mere vocational training in law; it included training on the ‘moral and social’ aspects of life, including the fine arts, ‘music and dance’.[93] The notion of a gentleman’s education might be considered a vestige of the landed gentry or of a specific class of British society, one of the few groups with access to higher education at the time.[94] In modern times, people might regard the notion of a ‘gentleman’s education’ as discriminatory to other genders, races or classes outside the white aristocracy.[95] However, this does not necessarily signify that the education taught at the Inns of Court in London was not liberal. It was still a broad, multidisciplinary education that extended beyond purely vocational aims to produce students with a broader understanding of their own culture and place within their culture, regardless of how elitist that culture might have been.

A liberal arts education is still often considered a privilege for a certain class of society—and this notion of privilege is still a contested part of its definition today.[96] Jesse Vogt, writing as a liberal arts student, suggests that ‘the possibility to enjoy a liberal education may be a given privilege that comes with little sense of responsibility for … people from mainly Western societies that are financially and mentally supported by relatives’.[97] The implied argument is that only those who can afford to ignore a vocation can afford to enrol in a non-vocational course. However, a contrary argument was voiced by the civil rights activist, WEB du Bois,[98] who argued that ‘future leaders in the African-American community deserved a college level liberal education—that is, the best kind of higher education, not just narrow occupational training’.[99] This line of thinking partially originates from the history of various slave states in the American south, in which laws prevented the teaching of black men and women to read and write.[100] These laws were enacted in response to a race riot in 1831 on the basis that reading and writing encouraged African-American slaves to seek their own liberation.[101] Whether a liberal arts education is purely a matter of privilege or a form of emancipation—or indeed both, a form of privileged emancipation—is a continued discussion today.

Liberal Arts as a Proposed Alternative to Neoliberal Legal Education

The aim of this thesis is to propose the adoption of a liberal arts law school curriculum in Australia by drawing on the numerous modern and historical examples of law schools and legal educators who have taught law as a liberal art. As discussed in the previous section, it is worth noting that the notion of teaching any topic as a liberal art or science is contested today—and this notion has changed throughout time. To this end, this thesis will investigate a modern liberal arts law school education that teaches students to both think for themselves and develop critical and analytical skills, a sense of justice and injustice, an ability to comprehend and critique the law and hard and soft transferable skills. Specifically, this thesis considers how and why law can be taught as part of a broader study of politics, history, civics, psychology and philosophy, and how and why doing so would prepare students to become well-rounded citizens for the broad range of jobs they will accept after graduating law school.

This thesis makes an original contribution to the field by providing concrete steps that lead from the theoretical arguments of how to teach law to the practical aspect of implementing a new curriculum. It combines various ideas of teaching law from history and modern innovation, as well as ideas from education theory, humanities education and critiques by past and present students. Specifically, this thesis proposes new and alternative teaching methods, assessments and subjects that differ from traditional recommendations in both their scope and breadth. This thesis concludes by proposing an entirely new law school curriculum rebuilt from the ground up to focus on humanities-based learning that is empowered by the latest technological and teaching methods.

This thesis contains three parts. Part 1 analyses the history of legal education in common-law countries, revealing competing views of legal academics—some of whom advocated for a vocational education while others advocated for a liberal arts education in law. It is possible to draw out, from this analysis, a few diffuse examples of a liberal arts pedagogy used historically in the law school setting. These examples act as a springboard for the argument advanced in this thesis, setting out the possibility of a liberal arts law school and what the adoption of a liberal arts curriculum in Australia might look like–albeit one which substitutes modern teaching and assessment methods for traditional historical arts and humanities approaches–linked to modern educational standards (as discussed in Part 3). Part 1 considers the early education of lawyers at the English Inns of Court, followed by a discussion of the apprenticeship method and the introduction of law as a subject in universities. The early law schools in common-law jurisdictions (the US, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada) will also be analysed, including the first common-law law school in England at Oxford, the first law school in the US at the College of William and Mary, and the first law schools in Australia in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, respectively. Part 1 concludes by reviewing the core compulsory subjects in Australia (the ‘Priestley Eleven’) and their effect on preventing curriculum reform.

Part 2 will explore modern legal education in Australia. This part analyses the neoliberal and instrumental aspects of modern Australian law schools and examine how a neoliberal education affects students. It identifies a neoliberal style of education in Australian law schools in terms of the content, style and assessments of the curriculum, which lends itself to a vocational style of teaching law. Part 2 will address the common objections to, and counterarguments of, a liberal arts law curriculum, including the notion that law schools should only teach pure law and that the responsibility for a broad-minded education lies elsewhere—or, briefly, that all law students are essentially future lawyers. Finally, this part will argue that by focusing on employment outcomes rather than on public service, community service or public advocacy, a neoliberal legal education might affect students in terms of their moral education, or society, in terms of the ethical conduct of future law graduates.

Part 3 will propose a new kind of law school in Australia—one in which law is taught as a broad liberal art or science, embedded in the contextualised education of politics, history and philosophy. It will do so by considering alternative teaching methods and assessments and combining ideas from the past and present. The aim is to offer students a chance to learn how to think for themselves, think critically about the law and propose new ideas for law reform. Finally, Part 3 concludes by proposing a new law curriculum that, if adopted, would represent the values of a liberal arts education, enshrined in the types of subjects that students study at law school. The proposed subjects are unique in terms of how they combine a long history of liberal arts education with newer approaches to law, including technology and gamification.

The thesis concludes with the contention that a new liberal arts law school in Australia would require discarding the current compulsory subjects (the Priestley Eleven) in favour of new electives and humanities subjects. The current curriculum would require significant change and overhaul, and black-letter law subjects and the case method would require significant changes in terms of their structure, their assessment and content. Legal principles would need to be contextualised in class with philosophical questions about the law’s origins, purpose and effect. Finally, it is argued that the Socratic method should be reversed, empowering students to question their professors, judges and the law itself.

[1] Karl N Lewellyn, On Our Law and Its Study (Oceana Publications, 1969) 96.

[2] David Barker, A History of Australian Legal Education (Federation Press, 2017) 1–5, 10, 25; Ralph Michael Stein, ‘The Path of Legal Education from Edward I to Langdell: A History of Insular Reaction’ (1981) 57 Chicago–Kent Law Review 429.

[3] There are various methods and variations denoting what this might mean in terms of practice and in terms of teaching law as a liberal art or science. For example, Martha Nussbaum suggested that law should be taught alongside the humanities and in partnership with humanities departments to encourage ‘democratic citizenship’, including ‘critical thinking’ about the ‘political issues affecting the nation’. In comparison, Margaret Thornton critiques the ‘amoral’ and ‘depoliticized stance of legal positivism’ and praises how ‘liberal arts’ legal education produces students who can ‘think for themselves’. However, she also noted that it is unclear what a liberal arts education ‘means today’. A more in-depth discussion regarding the definition of liberal arts and sciences in this context occurs at the end of this Introduction. For more on this topic, see Martha Nussbaum, ‘Not for Profit: Why Legal Education Needs the Humanities’ (Speech, Annual Hal Wooten Lecture, UNSW Faculty of Law, 11 August 2011) 3–5, 7–8, 11 <;; Margaret Thornton, Privatizing the Public University (Taylor and Francis, 2011) 59–61.

[4] Kurt Saunders and Linda Levine, ‘Learning to Think Like a Lawyer’ (2005) 29(121) University of San Francisco Law Review 1. This perspective is often implicit in texts suggesting that law students are future lawyers and that legal education is thus about training future lawyers; Thomas D Morgan, ‘Educating Lawyers for the Future Legal Profession’ (Research Paper No 189, George Washington University Law School Public Law Scholarly Commons, 2005) 26 <;. It is also implicit in texts highlighting the ‘breadth’ of skills in law-related areas rather than highlighting the values or the idea of pursuing knowledge for its own sake; Fiona McLeod, ‘Looking to the Future of Legal Education’ (Speech, Australian Academy of Law Conference, 13 August 2017) 3. For a further discussion regarding the divide between theory and practice, see Timothy P Terrell, ‘What Does and Does Not Happen in Law School to Prepare Students to Practice Law: A View from Both Sides of the Academic/Practice Dichotomy’ (1991) 83(3) Law Library Journal 493.

[5] William Twining praises the National Bar School in Bangalore, India, which ‘integrates a multidisciplinary approach to legal study with clinical experience, placements and skills training’; William Twining, ‘Preparing Lawyers for the Twenty’ (1992) 3(1) Legal Education Review 1. In comparison, liberal arts values (e.g., critical thinking, philosophical thinking, communication and writing) can be reframed as ‘skills’ that fit into a vocational curriculum’s framework (in which skills are the main goal of learning) rather than being considered ends in their own right. This is often implicit in the texts themselves. In this way, for example, these texts consider critical thinking a skill that should be taught for a vocational benefit rather than as an end in its own right. For example, see Michelle Sanson and Thalia Anthony, Connecting with Law (Oxford University Press, 2018) 2, 5–9. Alternatively, liberal arts subjects could be added as additional compulsory courses, or critical thinking can be emphasised in existing classes. This method blends the vocational approach with liberal arts add-ons. For example, see David M Moss and Debra Moss Curtis (eds), Reforming Legal Education: Law Schools at the Crossroads (Information Age Publishing, 2012) 15.

[6] Nickolas J James, ‘A Brief History of Critique in Australian Legal Education’ (2016) Melbourne University Law Review 37; Barker (n 2).

[7] Terry Hutchison and Nigel Duncan, ‘Defining and Describing What We Do: Doctrinal Legal Research’ (2012) 17 Griffith Law Review 1, 101.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Fiona Westwood and Karen Barton (eds), The Calling of Law: The Pivotal Role of Vocational Legal Education (Ashgate Publishing, 2014) 36.

[10] For more on the case method, see Peggy Cooper Davis, ‘Desegregating Legal Education’ (2010) 26 Georgia State University Law Review 1275.

[11] Henry Schlegel, ‘More Theory, More Practice’ (1988) 13 Legal Service Bulletin 71.

[12] Mathies Siems, ‘Legal Originality’ (2008) 28(1) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 147.

[13] Westwood and Barton (n 9) 37.

[14] Ibid.

[15] There are distinctions regarding the extent to which these academics cite both frameworks; Thornton (n 3); Nussbaum (n 3) 3–5; James (n 6); Lawrence Busch, Knowledge for Sale: The Neoliberal Takeover of Higher Education (MIT Press, 2017).

[16] Letter from Margaret Thornton to Law Admissions Consultative Committee, Law Council of Australia, 31 March 2015 <;.

[17] Nussbaum (n 3) 3–5.

[18] Duncan Kennedy, Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy: A Polemic Against the System (NYU Press, 1983).

[19] Thornton (n 19); Tamara Walsh, ‘Putting Justice Back into Legal Education’ (2008) 17(1–2) Legal Education Review, 126; Erina Cervini, ‘Law and the New Order’, Sydney Morning Herald (online at 12 June 2012) <;; Joel Barolsky, ‘Good Times Roll but Law Graduates Miss Out on a Harvey Specter life’, Financial Review (online at 31 January 2019) <; (‘Good Times Roll’).

[20] Beyond Billables, ‘The Hidden Costs of Law Firm Attrition’, Beyond Billables (Web Page) <;.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Barolsky, ‘Good Times Roll’ (n 19).

[23] Ibid; Neil McMahon, ‘Law of the Jungle: Lawyers Now an Endangered Species’, The Sydney Morning Herald (online at 11 October 2014) <;; Edmund Tadros, ‘Graduate Glut: 12,000 New Lawyers Every Year’, The Sydney Morning Herald (online at 14 February 2014) <;; Michael Douglas and Nicholas van Hattem, ‘Australia’s Law Graduate Glut’ (2016) 41(2) Alternative Law Journal 3–5; Council of Australian Law Deans, ‘Data Regarding Law School Graduate Numbers and Outcomes’ (Online Document, 2017) 1–2 <;.

[24] Tadros (n 23).

[25] Thornton (n 19).

[26] Ibid.

[27] Sandra Janoff, ‘The Influence of Legal Education on Moral Reasoning’ (1991) 76 Minnesota Law Review 193.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Anthony Kronman, The Lost Lawyer: Failing Ideals of the Legal Profession (Harvard University Press, 1993) 1.

[30] Ibid 1–2.

[31] William Twining, Blackstone’s Tower: The English Law School (Stevens and Sons, 1994) 24.

[32] Dean Spade, ‘For Those Considering Law School’ (Online Document, October 2010) <; (‘For Those Considering Law School’).

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Annan Boag et al, Breaking the Frozen Sea: The Case for Reforming Legal Education at the Australian National University (Law School Reform Committee, 2010); Marie Iskander, ‘The Ugly Truth about Being a Law Student’, Lawyers Weekly (online at 3 October 2013) <;; Joshua Krook, ‘Clerking Mad’, Honi Soit (Web Page, 12 May 2014) <;; Critical Legal Students Network, University of Sydney, ‘About’ (Facebook Group, 2013) <;; Justin Pen, ‘Consider the Law School’, Honi Soit (Web Page, 13 March 2014) <;.

[37] Boag et al (n 36).

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid iii–10.

[40] Ibid iii.

[41] Australian National University Faculty, ‘Academic Staff Response to Breaking the Frozen Sea’, Law School Reform: ANU International Law Society (21 November 2012).

[42] Ibid.

[43] Boag et al (n 36).

[44] Australian National University Faculty (n 41).

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Bruce Arnold, ‘Legal Warming’, Barnold Law (Blog Post, 9 April 2011) <;.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Kennedy (n 18).

[53] Ibid 30–40.

[54] Ibid 3.

[55] Ibid 3–4.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Spade, ‘For Those Considering Law School’ (n 32).

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid 4.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Ibid 8.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Mark William Roche, Why Choose the Liberal Arts (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010) 15.

[67] William Deresiewicz, ‘The Neoliberal Arts’ (September 2015) Harper’s Magazine 2.9.

[68] Ibid; Roche (n 66); Kara A Godwin and Philip G Altbach, ‘A Historical and Global Perspective on Liberal Arts Education: What Was, What Is, and What Will Be’ (2016) 5 International Journal of Chinese Education 8 (‘A Historical and Global Perspective on Liberal Arts Education’).

[69] Ibid.

[70] Roche (n 66) 17.

[71] Ibid.

[72] Godwin and Altbach, ‘A Historical and Global Perspective on Liberal Arts Education’ (n 68); Deresiewicz (n 67); Sarah Morrisey, ‘The Value of a Liberal Arts Education’ (2013) 8 Philosophy, Politics and Economics Undergraduate Journal 131 (‘The Value of a Liberal Arts Education’).

[73] Morrisey, ‘The Value of a Liberal Arts Education’ (n 72).

[74] ‘What is Social Science?’, Economic and Social Research Council (Web Page, 2021) <;; Simon Bastow, Patrick Dunleavy and Jane Tinkler, The Impact of the Social Sciences: How Academics and Their Research Make a Difference (SAGE Publishing, 2014) 4 (‘The Impact of the Social Sciences’).

[75] ‘Social Science Disciplines’, Economic and Social Research Council (Web Page, 2021) <;.

[76] Bastow, Dunleavy and Tinkler, The Impact of the Social Sciences (n 74).

[77] Ibid.

[78] John Harvard, ‘“Hard Problems” in the Social Sciences’ (July–August 2010) Harvard Magazine <; (‘“Hard Problems” in the Social Sciences’); ‘Solving the Social Sciences’ Hard Problems’ (27 April 2010) Harvard Magazine <;.

[79] ECSRC (n 77).

[80] Harvard, ‘“Hard Problems” in the Social Sciences’ (n 78).

[81] Ibid.

[82] Bruce Kimball, The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Documentary History (University Press of America, 2010), see for instance ‘Section VIII: Experimentation and Search for Coherence, 1910s–1930s’; Daniel E Kleinman, ‘Sticking Up for Liberal Arts and Humanities Education’ in Feisal G Mohamed and Gordon Hutner (eds), A New Deal for the Humanities: Liberal Arts and the Future of Public Higher Education (Rutgers University Press, 2016).

[83] For more on ancient Chinese education, see Godwin and Altbach, ‘A Historical and Global Perspective on Liberal Arts Education’ (n 68) 9–10. For more on the ancient Greeks, see Martha C Nussbaum, ‘A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education’ in Bruce Kimball (ed), The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Documentary History (University Press of America, 2010) 67; Christina Elliott Sorum, ‘The Problem of Mission: A Brief Survey of the Changing Mission of the Liberal Arts’ in American Council of Learned Societies, Liberal Arts Colleges in American Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities (ACLS Occasional Paper, 2005).

[84] Godwin and Altbach, ‘A Historical and Global Perspective on Liberal Arts Education’ (n 68); Ruth Hayhoe, ‘Knowledge and Modernity’ in Ruth Hayhoe (ed), China’s Universities and the Open Door (M.E. Sharpe, 1989).

[85] Ruiqing Du, Chinese Higher Education: A Decade of Reform and Development (1978–1988) (Martin’s Press, 1992) 2.

[86] Sorum (n 83) 28, 31.

[87] Ibid 31.

[88] Ibid 28, 31; Godwin and Altbach, ‘A Historical and Global Perspective on Liberal Arts Education’ (n 68) 9–10.

[89] Ibid.

[90] Ibid.

[91] Sorum (n 83) 28.

[92] David Lemmings, Gentlemen and Barristers: The Inns of Court and the English Bar: 1680–1730 (Clarendon Press, 1990); T Raleigh, ‘Legal Education in England’ (1898) 10 Juridicial Review 1–5.

[93] Ibid.

[94] Peter Clark, British Clubs and Societies 1580–1800: The Origins of an Associated World (Oxford University Press, 2000) 37, as quoted in Michael Segre, Higher Education and the Growth of Knowledge: A Historical Outline of Aims and Tensions (Routledge, 2015) 113.

[95] Lani Guinier, Michelle Fine and Jane Balin, Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School, and Institutional Change (Beacon Press, 1997) 86, 97.

[96] Deresiewicz argues against the idea; see Deresiewicz (n 67). Nussbaum also disagrees; see Martha C Nussbaum, ‘The Liberal Arts are Not Elitist’ (2010) The Chronicle of Higher Education 56. In contrast, Vogt argues in favour of this idea; see Jesse Vogt, ‘(Neo-)Liberal Education’ in Jacob Tonda Dirksen et al (eds), What Is Liberal Education and What Could It Be? (LESC, 2017) 46–7.

[97] Vogt (n 96) 45.

[98] Carol G Schneider, ‘Practicing Liberal Education: Formative Themes in the Reinvention of Liberal Learning’ (2004) 90(2) Liberal Education 6.

[99] Ibid.

[100] ‘Literacy as Freedom’ (2014) Smithsonian American Art Museum 1–2.

[101] Ibid.


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