Learning to Feel Like a Lawyer: Law Teachers, Sessional Teaching and Emotional Labour in Legal Education

33 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2018

See all articles by Mary Heath

Mary Heath

Flinders University - School of Law

Kate Galloway

Griffith Law School

Natalie Skead

The University of Western Australia Law School

Alex Steel

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law

Mark Israel

The University of Western Australia Law School

Date Written: November 29, 2017

Abstract

Contemporary higher education, including legal education, incorporates complexities that were not identified even a decade ago. Law programs first moved from traditional content-focussed programs toward incorporating critique and legal skills. Many are now working toward recognising inclusion and student wellbeing as integral to law graduates’ professional identities and skillsets. Yet the professional dispositions law teachers require to teach in these environments are ostensibly at odds with traditional lawyering identities founded upon an ideal of rationality that actively disengaged from affect. This article draws on our teaching experience and data drawn from the Smart Casual project, which designed self-directed professional development modules for sessional law teachers, to identify the limits of a traditional teaching skillset in the contemporary Australian tertiary law teaching context. We argue that contemporary legal education demands considerable emotional labour and we present sample contexts which highlight the challenges law teachers face in doing what is expected of them. The article makes explicit the emotional labour that has often been implicit or unrecognised in the role of legal academics in general, and in particular, in the role of sessional legal academics.

Keywords: Legal education; professional development; emotion; law schools; casualization; emotional labour

Suggested Citation

Heath, Mary and Galloway, Kate and Skead, Natalie and Steel, Alex and Israel, Mark, Learning to Feel Like a Lawyer: Law Teachers, Sessional Teaching and Emotional Labour in Legal Education (November 29, 2017). 2018 Griffith Law Review , UNSW Law Research Paper No. 18-19, UWA School of Law Research Paper No. 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3139212 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3139212

Mary Heath

Flinders University - School of Law ( email )

Adelaide S.A. 5001
Australia

Kate Galloway

Griffith Law School ( email )

Nathan Campus, GU
Nathan 4111
Australia

Natalie Skead

The University of Western Australia Law School ( email )

M253
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009
Australia

Alex Steel (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

Mark Israel

The University of Western Australia Law School ( email )

M253
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009
Australia

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