law school, tuition, increases, legal education, Canada, curriculum, client understanding, self-knowledge, comprehension, law, justice system
Recent increases in law school tuition provide an occasion for criticalreflection on precisely what law students are being offered in their formal education. The aim of this article is to help catalyze discussion of what quality legal education entails. It begins by outlining the current underpinnings of Canadian legal education, especially the foundation of issue identification. Newer developments in legal education are also canvassed.A foundational critique is then applied to elucidate the main weakness of thepresent curricular structure: students are graduating with a flat understanding of the law Employing Dr Oliver Sacks's critique of medical education as a starting point, the author proposes a vision of a re-invigorated legal curriculum built on twin foundations of identification and understanding. It is suggested that legal educators might, in practice, build on the foundation of understanding by addressing four key areas in which the traditional curriculum shows weakness: client understanding; comprehension of the law in a broader context; understanding of the actors and institutions of the justice system; and self-knowledge. Practical teaching tips are offered to encourage the formation of more well-trained, well-rounded graduates better able to serve society upon graduation.
Veronica Henderson, "Building on Strong Foundations: Rethinking Legal Education with a View to Improving Curricular Quality" (2006) 29:2 Dal LJ 491.