What are law schools for?


What are law schools for?

edited by P.B.H. Birks

(Pressing problems in the law, v. 2)

Oxford University Press, 1996

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Includes bibliographical references



This collection of essays commissioned by the SPTL (Society of Public Teachers of Law) brings together the views of leading experts in legal education a a debate about the aims and achievements of legal education in the 20th century and the challenges which legal education faces on the verge of the 21st century. The themes in this collection are important ones for the future of legal education and the legal profession and they are not by any means confined to the interests of English lawyers. The challenges faced by English law are found in many other countries around the world including Australia, the USA and other parts of the European Union. These essays will therefore be of interest to a world-wide audience of legal educators. The questions raised by some of the contributors are also of wider significance in the debate about the role of universities. Law, like medicine, is frequently regarded as a subject worthy of university education merely because graduates are needed to provide the profession with its new recruits. But English law schools have always maintained a distinctively scholarly mission reflecting a wider liberal commitment to education. As the 20th century draws to a close universities face unprecedented pressure and in the teaching of law the battle lines are now drawn between those who favour, on the one hand, a rigorous intellectual approach to the teaching of law and those, on the other hand, who would see law schools reduced to being feeder institutions for the legal profession. It is the importance of the essays in this volume that they eschew either a simple analysis of the problems facing legal education or the solutions, many of them equally simplistic, which abound in the current climate of discussion. By tackling the issues in a historical, comparative and empirical fashion these essays contribute greatly to a better understanding of the ideals which deserve to be preserved in ant system of legal education.

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