A brief history of critique in Australian legal education

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For much of its history Australian legal education has been dominated by doctrinal approaches to the teaching of law. Initially, legal education in Australia was little more than the uncritical transmission of legal doctrine by legal practitioners. It was not until the post-World War II emergence of the professional law teacher in Australia that a more scholarly approach was taken to the teaching of law. It took the influence of radicalism, feminism and the Critical Legal Studies movement in the 1970s and 1980s for legal critique to be taught in the law school. Resistance to trends within legal education perceived by some to be too radical meant that the decision to include legal critique in the curriculum was often a controversial one, and that the growth of legal critique in Australian legal education was generally slow. In the past decade critique has flourished in Australian legal scholarship, and mainstream legal education scholars have increasingly called for a greater emphasis on legal critique in the teaching of law. However, while many law schools have adopted teaching policies and programs which appear to encourage legal critique, it is still given a relatively low priority, and the present trend appears to be for legal education to become more practical rather than more critical. In the year 2000 legal critique remains an underemphasised and marginalised approach to the teaching of law in Australia
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)965-981
Number of pages17
JournalMelbourne University Law Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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