Thinking in legal educ



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CRITICAL THINKING IN LEGAL EDUCATION: OUR JOURNEY
GABRIELLE APPLEBY, PETER BURDON AND

ALEXANDER REILLY


In early 2012, a group of colleagues in the University of Adelaide Law School formed a working group on critical thinking. The initial intention of the group was to discuss Margaret Thorntons recent book, Privatising the Public University: The Case of Law and to consider its applicability to our school. To facilitate this discussion, we held several ‘reading groups’2 and the Law School hosted Thornton for a presentation and interactive workshop.

Thorntons book brought to Australia a critique of the corporatisation of legal education that is well established in other jurisdictions.3 In one part of her analysis Thornton argues that the neoliberal competition reforms of the 1990s have led to an overly vocationally focused curriculum.4 She also argues that effective teaching of critical theory and thinking have been ‘jettisoned’ in favour of a positivist-dominated curriculum: ‘[A] focus on doctrinarism, known knowledge and “right answers” has replaced the questioning voice.’5 This has led to a focus on black-letter law,

* Gabrielle Appleby, Senior Lecturer, Adelaide Law School, University of Adelaide; Peter Burdon, Senior Lecturer, Adelaide Law School, University of Adelaide; Alexander Reilly, Associate Professor, Adelaide Law School, University of Adelaide.

1 Margaret Thornton, Privatising the Public University: The Case of Law (Routledge,

2012).

2 The group read extracts from Thornton, above n 1, and Law School Reform, Breaking the Frozen Sea (2010)
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