Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Published version

James, N. J. (2017). More than merely work-ready: Vocationalism versus professionalism in legal education. University of New South Wales Law Journal, 40(1), 186-209.

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Copyright ©UNSW Law Journal, 2017




This article offers a critique of the dominance of vocationalism within contemporary Australian legal education, and a strategy for challenging that dominance. ‘Vocationalism’ is an educational philosophy or approach to teaching that claims the content of the curriculum must be governed by its occupational utility. In the context of legal education, it is the notion that what is taught in the law school, and how it is taught, must be determined primarily by its consistency with the goal of student employability. In other words, it is the notion that the principal purpose of legal education is preparing law students to be lawyers. A particular law school may define vocationalism broadly or narrowly: the emphasis may be upon preparing law students to be a particular type of lawyer such as a commercial lawyer, or any type of lawyer, or a graduate with legal knowledge and skills able to be applied in any of a wide range of professions. In all cases, it is the employability of graduates that is paramount.



This document has been peer reviewed.


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