1st Edition

What is Legal Education for? Reassessing the Purposes of Early Twenty-First Century Learning and Law Schools

Edited By Rachel Dunn, Paul Maharg, Victoria Roper Copyright 2023
    176 Pages 5 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    176 Pages 5 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    How we interpret and understand the historical contexts of legal education has profoundly affected how we understand contemporary educational cultures and practices. This book, the result of a Modern Law Review seminar, both celebrates and critiques the lasting impact of Peter Birks’ influential edited collection, Pressing Problems in the Law: Volume 2: What is the Law School for? Published in 1996, his book addresses many critical issues that are hauntingly present in the 21st century, amongst them the impact of globalisation; technological disruption; and the tension inherent in law schools as they seek to balance the competing interest of teaching, research and administration. Yet Birks’ collection misses key issues, too. The role of wellbeing, of emotion or affect, the relation of legal education to education, the status of legal education in what, since his volume, have become the devolved jurisdictions of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland – these and others are absent from the research agenda of the book.


    Today, legal educators face new challenges. We are still recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on our universities. In 1996 Birks was keen to stress the importance of comparative research within Europe. Today, legal researchers are dismayed at the possibility of losing valuable EU research funding when the UK leaves the EU, and at the many other negative effects of Brexit on legal education. The proposed Solicitors Qualifying Examination takes legal education regulation and professional learning into uncharted waters. This book discusses these and related impacts on our legal educations.


    As law schools approach an existential crossroads post-Covid-19, it seems timely to revisit Birks’ fundamental question: what are law schools for?

    1. Preface
    2. Paul Maharg, Rachel Ann Dunn, Victoria Roper

    3. The unitary idea of ‘the’ law school and other issues when defining ‘problems’ in legal education
    4. Elaine Hall and Samantha Rasiah


    5. What are Law Teachers For? Finding ways to introduce Law Teachers’ voices through the TEF in the ever-changing HE sector in England
    6. Maribel Canto-Lopez 

    7. Beyond the jurisdiction: Law schools, the LLB and "global" education 
    8. Chloe Wallace

    9. Reinventing possibility: A reflection on law, race and decolonial discourse in legal education 
    10. Foluke Ifejola Adebisi & Katie Bales


    11. Who are law schools for? A story of class and gender
    12.   Jess Guth & Doug Morrison

    13. A change in outfit? Conceptualising legal skills in the contemporary law school 
    14. Emma Jones


    15. ‘Originary intimacy’: A thought experiment in jurisprudential legal education inquiry
    16. Paul Maharg


    17. Three authors in search of phenomenologies of learning & technology
    18. Lydia Bleasdale, Paul Maharg & Craig Newbery-Jones

    19. What is the law school for in a post-pandemic world?

    Margaret Thornton      


    Rachel Ann Dunn, Leeds Beckett University, UK. Dr Rachel Dunn is Course Director of Pro Bono and Employability at the Leeds Law School. She was awarded her PhD, focused on Legal Education, in 2018. Her thesis explored the knowledge, skills and attributes which are considered necessary to start legal practice competently and whether live client legal clinics can develop them. Rachel has extensive experience of research methods, both empirical and doctrinal, and has collected research in various countries across the globe. She is a reviewer for the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education and regularly attends international conferences to present her research.



    Paul Maharg, York University, Canada. Paul is Distinguished Professor of Practice – Legal Education at Osgoode Hall Law School in York University, Ontario, Canada; and part-time Professor of Practice, Newcastle University Law School, England.  He is Honorary Professor of Law in The Australian National University College of Law, Canberra, where he was Director of the PEARL (Profession, Education and Regulation in Law) centre.  He publishes widely in the field of legal education, particularly in international and interdisciplinary educational design, and in the use of technology-enhanced learning.  He is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2015), a National Teaching Fellow (2011), and a Fellow of the RSA (2009).  He holds Visiting Professorships in Hong Kong University Faculty of Law, the Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, and was 2014 Distinguished Professor of Teaching and Learning at Denver University Sturm College of Law.  He is Consultant Editor of the European Journal of Law and Technology, and blogs at https://paulmaharg.com.   

    Victoria Roper, Northumbria University, UK. Dr Victoria is an Associate Professor and Director of Postgraduate Education for the Law School. She holds several external roles, including being the Chair of the Law Society for England and Wales’ Education and Training Committee and a Deputy Editor of the Law Teacher Journal. Victoria is also a Senior Fellow of the HEA and an external examiner. Victoria is widely published in legal education, is a reviewer for a number of journals and regularly attends international conferences to present her research. She is currently supervising a number of legal education and substantive law PhDs and professional doctorates. Victoria is the convenor of Northumbria’s Legal Education and Professional Skills Research Group (LEAPS). LEAPS was established in 2013 as an inclusive, collegiate, group dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of legal education scholarship. Victoria has a wide variety of teaching experience, including supervising case work in Northumbria’s Student Law Office and delivering teaching annually at a partner institution in Hong Kong.