Academic Learning in Law

Academic Learning in Law

Theoretical Positions, Teaching Experiments and Learning Experiences

Edited by Bart van Klink and Ubaldus de Vries

This timely book calls for a critical re-evaluation of university legal education, with the particular aim of strengthening its academic nature. It emphasizes lecturers’ responsibility to challenge the assumptions students have about law, and the importance of putting law in a theoretical and social context that allows for critical reflection and sceptical detachment. In addition, the book reports upon teaching experiences and innovations, offering tools for teachers to strengthen the academic nature of legal education.

Chapter 5: The necessary loneliness of teaching (and of being a legal academic)

Anthony Bradney

Subjects: law - academic, legal philosophy, legal theory, research methods in law, research methods, research methods in law


Legal academics will usually find themselves involved in research and administration as well as teaching. For reasons of space the focus of this essay is on teaching. This essay will also draw mainly on examples taken from the United Kingdom and usually from the jurisdiction of England and Wales. Drawing comparisons between the situations in university law schools in different jurisdictions is possible but it is also difficult and would demand more space than is available here. Nevertheless in other jurisdictions, the arguments put forward here will have a resonance, albeit with variations in detail and emphasis. Academics in university law schools work not just as individuals but as members of institutions. Their research will commonly be pursued on a purely individual basis; this latter point being true not just for legal academics but for most academics who are not in laboratory sciences. When involved in administration academics will work with others. When teaching they frequently work as members of teams. These teams can now include both other academics and also non-academics. At the same time academic work is regulated in many ways. Assessments of their work are often made both by their institutions and by external bodies. This means they are, in these ways, not independent. Yet, at the same time, academics are said to possess academic freedom. In some jurisdictions this academic freedom receives legal recognition.

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