Thinking in legal educ



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Law

Society of NSW Journal 41, extracted in James, above n 17, 972.

30 Margaret Thornton ‘The Dissolution of the Social in the Legal Academy’ (2006)

25 Australian Feminist Law Journal 3, 6.

31 Ibid.

32 Victorian Post-Secondary Education Commission, Report of the Review of Legal

Education in Victoria (Melbourne, 1991) 9, cited in ibid, 7.

33 Thornton, above n 30, 6, 9.

34 Ibid 10, 13.
feminist scholars) were given ‘exit packages’ and replaced with

professionally orientated’ academics and practitioners.35

Alongside these developments in legal education, law schools remained very closely regulated by the legal profession. Today, entry into the profession in South Australia requires an individual to satisfy the Board of Examiners and ultimately the Supreme Court that they are of good character, and that they meet the academic and practical requirements set out in the Admission Rules and the LPEAC Rules 36 The academic requirement is filled by an Australian tertiary degree in law which teaches the subjects specified in the ‘Priestley

11’ (the Priestley 11 subjects will be returned to below). Admitting authorities have the power to approve a particular law schools degrees as satisfying these requirements. The practical requirements were once met by a two-year period as an articled-clerk. They are now met by completing a practical legal training course.

In 1987, a discipline assessment for the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission (the ‘Pearce Report’) strongly supported a scholarly and critical approach to teaching law at the 12 schools in Australia (while at the same time recommending that the Macquarie Law School be closed down, at least partly on the basis of the rejection of the view that law schools should be predominantly concerned with training lawyers and its association with the CLS movement). The Pearce Report accepted that legal education was highly doctrinal in content. Nonetheless, it also recommended a focus on the ‘theoretical and critical dimensions of legal education’, accepting that university law schools are ‘concerned to evaluate and criticise the law’, as well as a focus on the teaching of legal skills.37

In a report that assessed the impact of the Pearce Report on legal education in Australia, McInnis and Marginson credit the Pearce Report with leading to a significant review of law curricula.38

However, contrary to another recommendation in the Pearce Report, between 1989 and 2013 the number of law schools has increased from 12 to 36,39 and the intake of students in existing schools has also risen sharply. This reflects changes in the university environment in Australia more generally, though the change in law has been particularly dramatic.40

35 Ibid 11.

36 Similar requirements apply in other states.

37 Dennis Pearce et al,
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