Dalhousie Law Journal


legal education, law teachers, syllabus, feminist, power, learning, classroom


Law teachers make choices over syllabus material, teaching methods and assessment formats, and thus inevitably exercise some control over what and how students learn. The actualpowerof each individual law professor will depend on the context of her particular classroom and her perceived credibility, generally defined by the university as the demonstration of a particular (rationalist) model of subject expertise. The intrinsic hierarchies and highly competitive culture of law school sustain this traditional model of knowledge along with its congruent image of the professor as autonomous, powerful and the focus of the classroom. Feminist law teachers and others who wish to reject an authoritarian and teacherdominated model of legal education need to develop alternative frameworks for understanding and redefining their use of teacher power. Critical pedagogy and feminist pedagogies provide some insights into the complexity and ambiguity of how law teachers can, and should, exercise power in the classroom. Drawing on the verbatim comments of law students interviewed about their experiences of teacher power, the paper suggests a pedagogy for refocusing the process of teaching and learning in law school on self, and away from the professor, hence reconceiving the character and purpose of the student/teacher relationship.