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Why our approach to student engagement might be determined by our answer to the question: is law merely a business?

contributors | abstract | biographies | paper

Contributors

Graham Ferris and Nick Johnson (Nottingham Trent University)

Intended format

Paper presentation

Abstract

The paper is concerned with student (and lawyer) motivation and engagement in legal education (and practice).

We have observed from our practice that legal clinic and pro-bono projects are effective educational motivators.

Students (and lawyers) are susceptible to the attraction of professional service. Indeed providing a legal service can, and sometimes does, operate as an independent motivation for student (and lawyer) activity.

We tend as educators to try and de-mystify legal practice, emphasising its relentlessly business driven logic. However, in so doing we artificially and detrimentally narrow our approach to legal education. From earlier work (in educational practice and at a theoretical level) the authors have become interested in the links between a service ethic and the role of student values and motivation in legal education.

The paper introduces the US scholarship on “Cause Lawyering”, and suggests the importance of the work for legal education in the UK. Specifically the links between:

  1. Committed lawyers and legal ethics
  2. Personal values and legal practice
  3. Inculcation of value discourse into the mainstream academic and professional corpus of contemporary legal education

Short biographies of panel members

Graham Ferris is Reader in Law at Nottingham Law School (NLS), Nottingham Trent University. He has been teaching law in Higher Education for nearly twenty years. He has published in the fields of property law and legal education.

Nick Johnson is Principal Lecturer in Law at Nottingham Law School (NLS) Nottingham Trent University. He is responsible for Pro Bono at NLS and is a practising solicitor. He worked for 10 years in private practice as a property lawyer, and teaches Property Law and Public Law.

Last Modified: 18 July 2011

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