Transformative legal education

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Juta Law
This article argues that significantly increased attention to theory (or theories) of legal education is not only imperative in order to improve the quality of legal education in South Africa, but is a crucial ingredient of constitutional transformation grounded in law in this country. The article puts forward a theoretical framework, called 'transformative legal education', in terms of which law could be taught at South African universities. In developing this framework the article draws upon insights from three basic dimensions of legal education, namely (1) the subject matter or discipline being taught (here law), (2) the teacher or the act of teaching, and (3) the student or learner. It is argued that these insights call for a fundamental shift from formalistic legal reasoning to substantive reasoning under a transformative constitution, for a shift towards a constructivist student-centred teaching model and for the recognition of a paradigm shift in knowledge from linear to non-linear, relational or complex. The article concludes by arguing that these different insights force law teachers to reassess critically their approach to legal education, and by explaining how these insights can contribute to a meaningful framework within which law can be taught responsibly in contemporary South Africa.
CITATION: Quinot, G. 2012. Transformative legal education. South African Law Journal, 129(3):411-433.
The original publication is available at
Law -- Study and teaching -- South Africa, Law -- Education -- Theories
Quinot, G. 2012. Transformative legal education. South African Law Journal, 129(3):411-433 .