How to Develop Law Students' Critical Awareness? Change the Language of Legal Education
Australian Learning and Teaching Council
freedom of information
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AbstractLegal education should develop in every law student an appreciation of practitioners’ ethical obligations and an understanding of the law’s social and political context. Realising these objectives – creating ‘critical awareness’ – depends on communicating two key propositions: that the law is an instrument of power in a highly legalised society; and that the law is normative and dynamic. Whether these propositions are elucidated or obscured is critically dependent on how legal doctrine is presented. This article will use extracts from course materials to show how the language used can limit students’ development of critical awareness. This article proposes an alternative approach to the presentation of legal doctrine that will promote students’ critical awareness. This approach makes explicit the relationship of the law and lawyers to power, and the social and political context in which law operates.