An exploration of value discourses in legal education [thesis]

Alexander John Nicholson
In September 2021, the regulator of the largest branch of the legal profession in England and Wales introduced a radically reformed qualification framework. Not only does this arguably of itself precipitate the need for transformational change within the legal education market, but it comes at a time when societal rhetoric is questioning the value of higher education more widely. When one is asked to speak about the "value" of legal education, the resultant discourse tends at least initially to
more » ... focus on instrumental aspects, and there is often an economic flavour. However, dig a little beneath the surface and it soon becomes clear that individual perceptions of value are multifaceted, inherently subjective, and subject to a constant process of evolution. The overarching aim of this programme of research was to explore the value discourses that exist within legal education and thereby formulate recommendations for reform. This aim was achieved using a predominantly pragmatist approach, and comprising a mixed methods design – albeit with an exclusive focus on doctrinal, theoretical, socio-legal, and qualitative methods, given the subjective nature of "value". The collective contribution of the eleven publications presented in this work is three-fold. First, they highlight the complexity of the value concept – specifically in relation to its application within legal education – and propose new theoretical modelswhich can assist legal and other education providers in evaluating, creating, and articulating value more holistically. Second, they illustrate the value of interdisciplinary and socio-legal research, and in so doing present important evidence to further support calls for greater interdisciplinarity within legal education. Finally, they highlight opportunities where an exploration of other value discourses might enhance educational and/or research outcomes by revealing previously hidden perspectives.
doi:10.7190/shu-thesis-00425 fatcat:btauunvlqfehzcd5rfui4fbrbe