Liberal legal education: The gap between rhetoric and reality

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There is within Australian legal education a widening gap between the rhetoric of liberalism and the reality of law school practice. While a liberal approach to the teaching of law is increasingly advocated by law schools and legal scholars, doctrinalism, vocationalism and corporatism nevertheless continue to dominate legal education. This paper uses a Foucauldian theoretical framework to explain why the rhetoric of liberalism so often fails to be realised.

The liberal approach to the teaching of law is characterised by a fundamental hypocrisy: despite its apparent commitment to liberation and pluralism, liberalism is in fact an exercise of disciplinary power seeking the universalisation of a specific ideology through the deployment of a range of disciplinary strategies including the colonisation and assimilation of alternative discourses. As an expression of power, liberalism is inevitably contested, and the convergence of a multiplicity of resistances contributes to liberalism’s failure within the law school.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-186
Number of pages24
JournalThe UNE Law Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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