n Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif - Current issues in legal education : a comparative review

Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1016-4359
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2193



A serious focus on research in the field of teaching and learning in law is advocated in this article. From a review of the legal education literature that has emanated from the United States of America, England, Australia and South Africa, it is clear that the field of legal education in South Africa has not attracted much scholarly attention. The article suggests that contextual factors, related to the substantive changes to South African law post-1994 have been responsible for this deficit. Law academics have chosen to research specific discipline areas, notably linked to the changes brought about as a result of the new constitutional dispensation, in favour of conducting research related to their pedagogical functions. In the international scholarship, a growing body of literature on legal education, fuelled by reports that document the state of legal education in each of the foreign jurisdictions, has emerged. Within the field of legal education, two particular themes appear to have predominated the recent literature: (i) the doctrinal/skills dichotomy in law curricula, reflected in tensions between law academics and the legal profession; and (ii) the need for inculcating ethical sensitivity, as part of the development of lawyers' professional identity, through the teaching of socio-ethical values in the academic curriculum. It is suggested that an engagement with these themes by South African legal educators, through research and scholarly writing, would enrich the debate that ought to take place amongst all stakeholders, in order to enhance the current state of legal education and to improve the quality of law graduates.

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