n Acta Academica - The crises in legal education

Volume 46, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0587-2405


This article reflects on recent debates on legal education in South Africa. I argue that the value of legal education should not be indexed by how well it serves the needs and expectations of the legal profession and judiciary, but rather how it contributes to a new jurisprudence suited to the legal, social and political transformation of South Africa. I therefore argue against a reading of the crisis of legal education as one that is instrumental and economical (the inability to produce efficient legal professionals) and focus rather on the jurisprudential crises that lie at the heart of law and jurisprudence, namely the crisis set in motion by the shift from a general jurisprudence, centered on the ideal of justice, to a restricted jurisprudence, focused merely on the coherence of the positive law. I argue that what is needed as a response to this crisis is a critical legal education, or an approach to the study and teaching of law grounded in a critical jurisprudence. The turn to a critical legal education suggested in this article is then further linked to an understanding of law as a humanities discipline and to the humility that this will require of legal academics, lawyers and judges.

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