More than merely work-ready: Vocationalism versus professionalism in legal education

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This article offers a critique of the dominance of vocationalism within
contemporary Australian legal education, and a strategy for challenging that
dominance. ‘Vocationalism’ is an educational philosophy or approach to teaching
that claims the content of the curriculum must be governed by its occupational
utility. In the context of legal education, it is the notion that what is taught in the
law school, and how it is taught, must be determined primarily by its consistency
with the goal of student employability. In other words, it is the notion that the
principal purpose of legal education is preparing law students to be lawyers. A
particular law school may define vocationalism broadly or narrowly: the
emphasis may be upon preparing law students to be a particular type of lawyer
such as a commercial lawyer, or any type of lawyer, or a graduate with legal
knowledge and skills able to be applied in any of a wide range of professions. In
all cases, it is the employability of graduates that is paramount.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-209
Number of pages25
JournalUniversity of New South Wales Law Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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