—Then and Now’(2006) 9 Newcastle Law Review 1, 3−5.
26 See James, above n 17, 968−9.
27 Ibid 969.
28 Forasummaryofthesedebates,seevolume5oftheAustralianJournalofLaw andSociety(1988−89)whichisdevotedtothequestionofcriticallegaleducation, and includes key documents from debates among law school staff at Macquarie. See also James, above n 17. Allegations were made that students educated in this environment wouldbeunemployable aslawyersbecause ofthelack offocuson substantive doctrine and professional skills.29
Itisfairtosaythateventodaytheexistenceofthesemoreradical politicalperspectiveswithinthelawdegreeisdivisive.Thedisputes on the 1970s and 1980s have left scars on many legal educators, makingtermssuchas‘CriticalLegalStudies’(CLS)heavywith baggage. In our discussions with colleagues in law schools across Australia,ourgrouphasfoundthatthelegacyofthesedisputes has even coloured the term ‘critical thinking’. For this reason, our definition ofcritical thinking (set out in Part I) focuseson methods thatenablestudentstoidentifyandquestiontheirassumptions.While thisprocessmightoccurwithreferencetoideasdevelopedinCLSand subsequentcriticallegaltheories,itmightoccurinalegaleducation thatisverydifferentlyfocused. Wehavediscoveredthatclarifying the distinction between critical thinking and critical legal theories has been important for bringing people into the conversation.
In the early 1990s the possibility of challenge to the dominant templateagainemerged,and Thornton’sexperienceofitsdemise shapedmuchofhercurrentcritiqueoflawschools.In1992,LaTrobe UniversitymovedfromofferinglegalstudiestoitsBA students through its Department of Legal Studies, to offering an accredited professional LLB degree. Duringitstime offering legal studiesin the BA, the university developed a reputation for focusing on ‘law asasocialphenomenon’ratherthan‘lawforpractice’.30Asanewly appointedchairatLa Trobe, Thorntondescribestheanticipationof developingan‘innovativeLLB’inthisenvironment,31 anditsinitial sale to the market as ‘an interdisciplinary study of the law inits social context, combining and integrating law with the perspectives andintellectualskillsofthesocialsciences.’32However,theprogram that was adopted for the new school was taken from existing law school curricula, at least partly to reassure the market of the quality ofthenewgraduates.33 TheDepartmentofLegalStudiesbecame theSchoolofLawandLegal Studiesinaprofessionally dominated faculty,andeventuallyLa TrobeLaw.34 In1999,areviewofthe Schoolrecommendedthatitturnfurthertowardsthecommercial and practice-focused curriculum expected by the market. Many remainingsocio-legalscholars(thelargemajorityofwhomwere