Reforming Law Reform’s Engagement with the Academic Arm of the Legal Profession
Bryan T. Horrigan
Monash University - Faculty of Law
Australasian Law Reform Agencies Conference, Port Vila, Vanuatu, September 10-12, 2008
Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009/02
The global, transnational, and regional landscape surrounding law-making, public policy, and law reform is very different in the first quarter of the 21st century from what it was in the last quarter of the 20th century. Transformations in that landscape include changes in how we view the role of government in the new regulatory state and geopolitical order, enhancement of transnational civil society’s engagement in public policy and regulation, evolution from a state-based system of mandated law to broader systems of governmental and non-governmental regulation, and progression towards recognition and management of shared governance challenges across regions and the globe, which galvanise the collective efforts of governments, business, and civil society. At the same time, the interplay of orientations, perspectives, and roles between the judicial, professional, and academic arms of the legal profession has reached a critical turning point, whose crossing has implications for the academy’s contribution to legal and policy reform as well as the receptivity of the other arms of the legal profession to that contribution.
For the 21st century legal academy, dramatic changes in the political and university environments affecting research are likely to make it harder rather than easier for academic interest and engagement in meaningful law reform activities, unless one or both of two contingencies happen. One contingency is a collective push-back against these political and university trends from governmental lawyers, courts, law reform agencies, and legal professional representative bodies who rely upon the outputs and contributions of legal academics in their own work. The other contingency is a collective move by the legal academy to smarter and more strategic approaches to engagement with law reform and its various players, in managing the multiple and sometimes competing institutional and individual interests that are now in play for legal academic researchers, to contribute to the public good of meaningful legal and policy reform, through different and innovative avenues of engagement.
In the short space and time available to me today, I want to highlight some of these larger themes through the focus of how they impact upon the relationship between the legal academy and law reform from this point onwards. Such a task cannot be approached simply from a national (eg Australian) or even regional (eg South Pacific or even Asia-Pacific) perspective, but must increasingly be approached from a truly global perspective, at least in terms of how global concerns in the 21st century translate to common national and regional concerns for law reform and social justice here in our own backyards.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 25
Keywords: Law Reform, Role of Academia in Law Reform, Academic Law Reform, Legal Education, Academic Research
JEL Classification: K00, K4, K49Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 15, 2009
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