A 'deleterious' effect? : Australian legal education and the production of the legal identity

Ball, Matthew J. (2008) A 'deleterious' effect? : Australian legal education and the production of the legal identity. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


A body of critical legal scholarship argues that, by the time they have completed their studies, students who enter legal education holding social ideals and intending to use their legal education to achieve social change, have become cynical about the ability of the law to do so and no longer possess such ideals. This is explained by critical scholars to be the result of a process of ideological indoctrination, aimed at ensuring that graduates uphold the narrow and conservative interests of the legal profession and capitalist society, being exercised by law schools acting as adjuncts of the legal profession, and exercised upon the passive body of the law student.

By using Foucault’s work on knowledge, power, and the subject to interrogate the assumptions upon which this narrative is based, this thesis intends to suggest a way of thinking differently to the approach taken by many critical legal scholars. It then uses an analytics of government (based on Foucault’s notion of ‘governmentality’) to consider the construction of the legal identity differently. It examines the ways in which the governance of the legal identity is rationalised, programmed, and implemented, in three Queensland law schools. It also looks at the way that five prescriptive texts to ‘surviving’ law school suggest students establish and practise a relation to themselves in order to construct their own legal identities.

Overall, this analysis shows that governance is not simply conducted in the profession’s interests, but occurs due to a complex arrangement of different practices, which can lead to the construction of skilled legal professional identities as well as ethical lawyer-citizens that hold an interest in justice. The implications of such an analytics provide the basis for original ways of understanding legal education, and legal education scholarship.

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ID Code: 28601
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Carpenter, Belinda, O'Farrell, Clare, & James, Nickolas
Keywords: legal education, Australian law schools, Michel Foucault, governmentality, analytics of government, critical legal theory, critical legal narrative, governmental practices, practices of the self, discourse, power, subject, ethics
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 12 Nov 2009 00:14
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 14:41

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