Book review: Rethinking the Law School: Education, Outreach, Research and Governance. Edited by Carel Stolker, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Date01 January 2019
Published date01 January 2019
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews
Rethinking the Law School: Education, Outreach, Research and Governance. Edited by Carel Stolker,
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2014, 472 Pp., hb, £75.00. ISBN-13: 978-1107073890 ISBN-10:
Carel Stolker in the book has highlighted how the current literature available on legal education is
‘nationally oriented’, and law schools and the issues around them have never been the subject matter of
one single book. In this book, he has dealt with perusal of the state of legal education worldwide, and
while he has agreed on this being an ambitious venture, a wide ground has been covered. Aspects such
as legal education, research, funding of law schools, outreach and governance have been talked about
extensively. His observations draw heavily from his experience as a dean of the University of Leiden, the
oldest university in the Netherlands. He starts with some remarks on the number of law graduates and
how funding students is a major problem that most of the law schools face, and he has also listed the
shortcomings of the book, that is, inability to make a connection between legal institutions in different
countries, with equally dissimilar students.
In the first and the second chapters, he has presented diversity among the law schools across continents. He
also discusses how legal education evolved in different parts of the world. There is an emphasis on the need
to be competitive and yet being able to retain values such as collaboration and communication. Student
mobility at various levels gives them insight into the education in other countries and benefits flow in the long
run, like influential changes creeping into both the sending and receiving universities’ outlook and world view.
Collaborations will also develop interdisciplinary research synergy and cost-cutting. The diversity in terms of
funding of universities poses a big challenge which can be dealt with planning, and this calls for having a
specialized management staff. He has talked about the balance that is needed to be maintained between
university autonomy and state regulation, the most important aspects of the former, that is, teaching and
research, being independent of the latter. However, state intervention cannot be overlooked as it is inevitable,
especially in the law schools where majority of their funding is done by the state.
The third and fourth chapters raise concerns regarding law being viewed as a vocational education
rather than an academic discipline. In the effort to defend the academic nature of the discipline, he has
argued the relevance of law in people’s daily lives, increasing number of legal specialisms and its
connection to other disciplines. Therefore, law cannot be afforded to be called a non-academic discipline.
On the other hand, such a distinction is unnecessary, says the book, because the primary objective of law
schools is to educate and not to train lawyers. It has been shown how important it is for law schools to
define their visions and missions along with their enforcement. Some of these include transferring of
knowledge and skills along with training in how to identify with other cultures and societies.
The fifth chapter deals with pedagogy, learning techniques and styles like case dialogue. This experi-
mentation with styles is important, according to the author, for ensuring that sufficient diversity is
brought into teaching. The ‘one size fits all’ approach is admonished for the benefit of students who
Asian Journal of Legal Education
6(1–2) 91–95, 2019
© 2019 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2322005818806739

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