The Idea of the University and the Contemporary Legal Academy

Sydney Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 481-502, 2004

22 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2009 Last revised: 12 Dec 2012

Date Written: February 13, 2009

Abstract

In light of the contemporary moves to transform the Australian university by subjecting it to the values of the market, the traditional idea of the university is in jeopardy. Freedom to teach, the unity of teaching and research, and academic selfgovernance are key factors associated with this idea. With its primarily professional and vocational focus, law has tended to be somewhat more ambivalent than the humanities about the freedoms associated with teaching and the pursuit of knowledge. Nevertheless, a liberal legal education is an ideal to which law schools have aspired over the last two or three decades. This article argues that, after a brief flirtation with a more humanistic legal education, the market is causing a swing back to a technocratic and doctrinal approach. The article draws on key proponents of the 'idea of the university', namely, Newman, Humboldt and Jaspers to consider what light these theorists might shed on the dilemma posed by the market imperative. It is suggested that a disregard for the presuppositions of the market could be disastrous for the future of the university law school.

Keywords: law school, liberal education, markets

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Thornton, Margaret, The Idea of the University and the Contemporary Legal Academy (February 13, 2009). Sydney Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 481-502, 2004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1342193

Margaret Thornton (Contact Author)

ANU College of Law ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

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