Power, Legal Education, and Law School Cultures: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Power, Legal Education, and Law School Cultures

1st Edition

Edited by Meera E. Deo, Mindie Lazarus-Black, Elizabeth Mertz


302 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-10-17
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There is a myth that lingers around legal education in many democracies. That myth would have us believe that law students are admitted and then succeed based on raw merit, and that law schools are neutral settings in which professors (also selected and promoted based on merit) use their expertise to train those students to become lawyers. Based on original, empirical research, this book investigates this myth from myriad perspectives, diverse settings, and in different nations, revealing that hierarchies of power and cultural norms shape and maintain inequities in legal education.

Embedded within law school cultures are assumptions that also stymie efforts at reform. The book examines hidden pedagogical messages, showing how presumptions about theory’s relation to practice are refracted through the obfuscating lens of curricula. The contributors also tackle questions of class and market as they affect law training.

Finally, this collection examines how structural barriers replicate injustice even within institutions representing themselves as democratic and open, revealing common dynamics across cultural and institutional forms. The chapters speak to similar issues and to one another about the influence of context, images of law and lawyers, the political economy of legal education, and the agency of students and faculty.

Table of Contents


Mindie Lazarus-Black, Meera Deo, and Elizabeth Mertz

SECTION I: Legal Pedagogies in Context(s)

  1. Theory and Practice, Together at Last: A Heretical, Empirical Account of Canadian Legal Education
  2. David Sandomierski

  3. Teaching International Lawyers How to Think, Speak, and Act like U.S. Lawyers: Notes on Inchoate Power and the Imperial Process
  4. Mindie Lazarus-Black

  5. In the Law School Classroom: Hidden Messages in French Elite Training
  6. Émilie Biland & Liora Israёl

    SECTION II: Class and Market in Legal Education

  7. Legal Training as Socialization to State Power: An Ethnography of Law Classes for French Senior Civil Servants
  8. Rachel Vanneuville

  9. The Perennial (and Stubborn) Challenges of Affordability, Cost, and Access in Legal Education
  10. Stephen Daniels

  11. Market Creep: "Product" Talk in Legal Education
  12. Riaz Tejani

    SECTION III: Invisible Processes and Images in Legal Training

  13. Language, Culture, and the Culture of Language: International JD Students in the U.S. Law Schools
  14. Swethaa Ballakrishnen & Carole Silver

  15. How the Law School Admission Process Marginalizes Black Aspiring Lawyers
  16. Aaron Taylor

  17. The Culture of "raceXgender" Bias in Legal Academia
  18. Meera E. Deo

  19. Canaries in the Mines of the U.S. Legal Academy

Elizabeth Mertz


About the Editors

Meera E Deo, JD, PhD, is Director of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) and Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Her research merges jurisprudence with empirical methods to interrogate institutional diversity, affirmative action, and racial representation. Her book, Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia (Stanford University Press, 2019) examines how raceX gender affect workplace interactions, tenure, work/life balance, and more. Professor Deo has been a member of the California Commission on Access to Justice, consultant to the ACLU of Southern California, and Chair of the AALS Law and the Social Sciences Section.

Mindie Lazarus-Black is Professor Emerita of Anthropology, Temple University. She has conducted fieldwork in Antigua, Trinidad, and the U.S. to understand how, when, and why law operates as a discourse and practice of rights and repression. She is the author of Everyday Harm: Domestic Violence, Court Rites, and Cultures of Reconciliation (2007), Legitimate Acts and Illegal Encounters: Law and Society in Antigua and Barbuda (1994), and co-editor (with Susan F. Hirsch) of Contested States: Law, Hegemony, and Resistance (1994). She has also published in, among others, American Ethnologist, Caribbean Studies, Law & Social Inquiry, and Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies.

Elizabeth Mertz is an anthropologist and law professor; her research focuses on legal language and law school education. Her book, The Language of Law School: Learning to "Think Like a Lawyer," won the Law & Society Association's Herbert Jacob Book Prize ; it also provided empirical support for the 2007 Carnegie Report on legal education. She is a Fellow of the American Anthropological Association; Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation; and John and Rylla Bosshard Professor Emerita at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Her current research focuses on U.S. law professors and the "new legal realism" project.

About the Series

Emerging Legal Education

Emerging Legal Education

Emerging Legal Education is a forum for analysing the discourse of legal education and creating innovative ways of learning the law. The series focuses on research, theory and practice within legal education, drawing attention to historical, interdisciplinary and international characteristics, and is based upon imaginative and sophisticated educational thinking. The series takes a broad view of theory and practice. Series books are written for an international audience and are sensitive to the diversity of contexts in which law is taught, learned and practised.

Series Editors

Meera E. Deo is Associate Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California. She has held visiting positions at Berkeley Law and UCLA School of Law. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. Her nationally recognized, mixed-method empirical research is focused on institutional diversity, affirmative action, and solutions to intersectional (race/gender) bias.

Paul Maharg is Distinguished Professor of Practice - Legal Education at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto. Prior to that he was Professor of Law in the Australian National University College of Law, Canberra, and is now an Honorary Professor there. He is a Fellow of the RSA (2009), was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship (2011), and is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2015). He holds the positions of part-time Professor of Law at Nottingham Trent University Law School, and Visiting Professorships in the Faculties of Law at Hong Kong University and Chinese University of Hong Kong.


Elizabeth Mertz is John and Rylla Bosshard Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School and Senior Research Faculty at the American Bar Foundation; in addition to her JD, she holds a PhD in Anthropology, and specializes in linguistic as well as legal anthropology. In recent years she has spent time as a Visiting Fellow in the Law and Public Affairs Program and a Visiting Professor in the Anthropology Department at Princeton University.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General