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Australian legal education and the instability of critique
Melbourne University Law Review (2004)
  • Nickolas J James, University of Queensland

While the word ‘critique’ appears with considerable frequency in contemporary Australian legal education texts, the meaning and the emphasis accorded to ‘critique’ vary widely. This article describes, analyses and explains this inconsistency of meaning and emphasis. Rather than a stable and consistent body of knowledge and practices, legal education can be viewed as a dynamic nexus of at least six distinct and competing discourses: doctrinalism, vocationalism, corporatism, liberalism, pedagogicalism and radicalism. Each of these discourses is simultaneously a form of knowledge and an expression of disciplinary power within the law school. As a form of knowledge, each discourse accords critique a different meaning and a different emphasis. As an expression of power, each discourse is an attempt to normalise a particular approach to the teaching of law and to enhance the status of a particular type of legal scholar. Critique, in a variety of forms, is a strategy deployed by each discourse in order to achieve these objectives and to dominate and displace competing discourses.

  • legal education texts
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Publisher Statement
Published version

James, N. (2004). Australian legal education and the instability of critique. Melbourne University Law Review, 28, 1-30

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© Copyright Melbourne University Law Review Association Inc, 2004
Citation Information
Nickolas J James. "Australian legal education and the instability of critique" Melbourne University Law Review Vol. 28 (2004)
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