Aspiration and Reality in Legal Education
Contrary to conventional narratives about legal education, Aspiration and Reality in Legal Education reveals a widespread desire among law teachers to integrate both theory and practice into the education of versatile and civic-minded lawyers. Despite this stated desire, however, this aspiration is largely unrealized due to a host of intellectual and institutional factors that produce a profound gap between what professors believe about law and the ideas they communicate through their teaching.
Drawing on interviews with over sixty law professors in Canada, David Sandomierski makes two important empirical discoveries in this book. First, he establishes that, contrary to a dominant narrative in legal education that conceives of theory and practice as oppositional, the vast majority of law professors consider theory to be vitally important in preparing "better lawyers." Second, he uncovers a significant gap between the realist theoretical commitments held by a majority of professors and the formalist theories they almost uniformly convey through their teaching and conceptions of legal reasoning. Understanding the intellectual and institutional factors that account for these tensions, Sandomierski argues, is essential for any meaningful project of legal education reform.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 408 pages
- Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.0in x 9.3in
"Offering an effective account of the contemporary state of legal education in English Canada, Aspiration and Reality in Legal Education uses evidence drawn from commercially published casebooks, interviews, as well as careful analysis from course documents, syllabi, and evaluations, to reveal a deep truth about legal education, one that we should all recognize, but one that is never discussed with such clarity."
Daniel Jutras, Faculty of Law, McGill University
"Sandomierski’s engaging and provocative book encourages all stakeholders − students, teachers, practitioners, judges, and the general public − to think critically about what is being taught both explicitly and implicitly about contract law in Canada’s law schools."
Richard Devlin, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University
"Drawing on interviews with law professors, course details, teaching materials, and assessment questions, Sandomierski identifies a disjunction between law teachers’ stated belief in the importance of policy, politics, context, and indeterminacy in understanding law and how they describe legal reasoning and what is actually taught. Sandomierski illuminates, in a wonderfully lucid manner, the problems and possibilities of broadening legal education, of implementing public-spirited visions of legal education, and of the redemption of legal professionalism."
David Sugarman, Law School, Lancaster University
"Sandomierski’s fascinating book is an anthropology of divided selves: Canadian law professors who teach law as a formal system while most of them subscribe to anti-formalist views. This careful, detailed, brilliantly written book is a case study in how common-sense views of law are reproduced and transmitted."
Robert W. Gordon, Stanford and Yale Law Schools
"This volume puts Canadian legal education squarely into the middle of international scholarly discussions of whether law schools can train lawyers effectively while also serving as centres for theoretical progress on issues of law, justice, and civic values. It is a must-read book for anyone interested in these questions."
Elizabeth Mertz, Law School, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Author InformationDavid Sandomierski is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at Western University.
Table of contents
1. The Lawyer As Citizen: Integrating Theory and Practice in Legal Education
2. Contracts and the Eclectic Toolkit of Legal Reasoning
3. Promise and Performance in Canadian Contracts Casebooks
4. Making Better Lawyers: The Aspiration to Translate Theory into Practice
5. The Failure to Operationalize: Realism and Formalism in Canadian Contracts Teaching
6. Transcending Langdell: Agency, Structure, and Transformation in Contemporary Legal Education
Subjects and Courses