Thinking in legal educ



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17 Thornton, above n 1, 59−109; Nickolas James, ‘A Brief History of Critique in

Australian Legal Education’ (2000) 24 Melbourne University Law Review 965

18 After the establishment of the University of Melbourne Law School in 1857.

Although the University of Sydney Law School opened in 1855, it only examined and did not teach law students until 1890.

19 A full history of the Adelaide Law School is available at Alex Castles, Andrew Ligertwood and Peter Kelly, Law on North Terrace: The Adelaide University Law School 1883−1981 (1983).

20 See further Linda Martin, ‘From Apprenticeship to Law School: A Social History of Education in Nineteenth Century New South Wales’ (1986) 9 University of New South Wales Law Journal 111

21 Vivienne Brand, ‘Decline in the Reform of Law Teaching? The Impact of Policy

Reforms in Tertiary Education’ (1999) 10 Legal Education Review 109, 111.

22 David Weisbrot, Australian Lawyers (Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers

Inc, 1990) 122−3; James, above n 17, 967.

23 Weisbrot, above n 22, 120.
Education in Australia released a report, the Martin Report, which recommended:
It is very desirable that lawyers seeking admission to independent practice

... have an education founded upon full-time studies at university level ... not so much to train them as legal practitioners as to provide them with the background intellectual training necessary for leaders in the highly complex society of the future.24
Law thus eventually became accepted as an important academic discipline in the modern university, and this created the possibility of legal education extending beyond strict doctrinal training and into broader theoretical disputes. In short, it created the opportunity for the teaching of critical thinking within the legal context. Thus the move from vocational training to a university-based and then academically focused legal education represents a fundamental shift in the nature of the legal profession itself from apprentice-trained professionals to university graduates. In the next part we will consider the place of universities, and university graduates more generally, within our communities and the importance of teaching graduates to engage in independent judgment from both within and outside of the law; that is, to engage in critical thinking.

However, law schools continue to operate within a very specific regulatory and institutional context and this has meant that despite the opportunity created by the shift to a university education model, Australian legal education has, by and large, remained predominantly focused upon the transmission of doctrinal rules25 and, more recently, practical skills.26

There has only been one significant challenge to this template for law schools in Australia. In the 1970s, law schools started to be influenced by more politically radical movements, and Marxist, feminist and critical legal studies critiques started to be taught in the curricula.27 The incorporation of these more radical critiques into law curricula divided the legal profession and the universities. In the

1980s, academics at Macquarie University engaged in a vigorous debate about whether law schools should define themselves as a purely academic discipline engaged in the theoretical critique of the concept of law, with no necessary role in training lawyers.28

24 Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia,
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