Universityeducationhasincreased23-fold.In1950,therewere30,000students These changes have placed competing pressures on law schools. Firstly,thereispressuretobroadenlawdegreesandreducethefocus onlegalskills. Thisisbecausealargenumberofgraduatesdonot enduppractising law— either because ofthe scarcity oflegal jobs or because they never intended to do so. However, alongside this pressure to broaden the role of legal education is a countervailing pressure from the profession and students to ensure that graduates have the requisite skills to practise in an increasingly competitive job market.
Nickolas James describes the trend in the 1990s towards a
‘clinicalorskills-basededucation’.41 Thetrendawayfromarticles ofclerkshipandpractical training withintheprofessionhasmeant that on-the-job training has largely been replaced by the ‘virtual workplace’andthe‘mockfile’.Lawfirmshiregraduatesalready admitted to practice, and they expect these students to be proficient inthepracticalskillsrequired. Theemphasison‘practicalskills’ oftenpullsagainstattemptstointroducecriticalengagementwith the law.
More generally, the pressure to teach skills competes with the traditional role of universities as places of free intellectual inquiry andcriticalthinking.ThistensionisnotuniquetoAustralianlaw schools.AninfluentialreviewofUSLawSchools,the1992MacCrate Report commissioned by theAmerican BarAssociation, observed: Thus,agapdevelopsbetweentheexpectationandthereality,resulting in complaints and recriminations from legal educators and practicing lawyers.Thelamentofthepracticingbarisasteadyrefrain:‘They can’tdraft acontract, they can’twrite, they’ve never seenasummons, theprofessorshaveneverbeeninsideacourtroom.’ Lawschoolsoffer the traditional responses: ‘We teach them how to think, we’re not trade schools,we’recentersofscholarshipandlearning,practiceisbesttaught by practitioners.’42 In response to such sentiments, many legal educators and professionals have emphasised the harmony between the goals of traininggoodlawyersandteachingcriticalengagementwiththe
228,000 international students. In 1988, the Labor Minister for Education, John Dawkins, consolidated 63 Higher Education providers into 36 universities. In doing so, the distinction between technical training and traditional university education disappeared at a formal level.
41 James, above n 17, 976.
42 AmericanBarAssociation,SectiononLegalEducationandAdmissionstotheBar, LegalEducationandProfessionalDevelopment— AnEducationalContinuum, Report of the Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap (ABA, 1992). law.ThislineofthinkingisarticulatedbyEnglishProfessorSirOtto
Kahn-Freund, who argued: There is in fact no contradiction between the needs of an academic professional education and those of a vocational training. English law doesnotconsistofanuncoordinatedmassofrulesforpractitionerswhich canonlybelearntbyrote. Theunquestioningacceptanceofjudicial decisions or utterances is not part of the professional equipment of an English lawyer.43 WereturntothecoreelementsofalegaleducationinPartIII of this article, where we explore this relationship between doctrine, theory and skills.
Aswehavealreadydemonstrated,theprofessionalregulation of Australianlawschoolshasbeenpredominantlyconcernedwith thedoctrinalcontentoflawdegrees.In1994,theLawCouncil of Australiacreateda‘BlueprintfortheStructureoftheLegal Profession’. TheBlueprintincludedalistof10areasoflawthat neededtobestudiedforadmission.TheCouncilproposedthatthese subjectsbetaught‘inthecontextofanoverallcourseofstudywhich provides:awell-roundededucationinthelaw;alevelofscholarship usuallyassociatedwithacourseleadingtoanundergraduatedegree; a good grounding in the analytical, communication and other skills required of a lawyer in a modern society; and which placed the theory in a practical context.’44
TheLawAdmissionsConsultativeCommittee,headedbyJustice Priestley,expandedthelistto11coresubjectareas—criminal law and procedure, torts, contracts, property, equity, company law, administrative law, federal and state constitutional law, civil procedure,evidence,ethicsandprofessionalresponsibility.TheLaw CouncilofAustraliahassincecomparedtheacademicrequirements inAustraliawiththoseinotherjurisdictionsandconsideredoptions for reform.45 43 ExtractedinJHWade,‘LegalEducationinAustralia—Anomie,Angst,and Excellence’(1989)39JournalofLegalEducation189,195;seealsoCharles SampfordandDavidWood,‘TheoreticalDimensionsofLegalEducation’inJohn Goldring,CharlesSampfordandRalphSimmonds(eds)NewFoundationsinLegal Education(CavendishPublishing,1998)100,115; AndrewStewart,‘Educating AustralianLawyers’inCharlesSampford,SophieBlencoweandSuzanneCondlln (eds),EducatingLawyersforaLessAdversarialSystem(FederationPress1999)
44 LawCouncilofAustralia,BlueprintfortheStructureoftheLegalProfession: A NationalMarketforLegalServices(1994),3