Legal Education and the 'Idealistic Student': Using Foucault to Unpack the Critical Legal Narrative
journal contributionposted on 29.10.2019, 08:50 by Matthew Ball
It appears that few of the students holding ‘socially idealistic’ goals upon entering law school actually maintain these upon graduation. The critical legal narrative, which explains and seeks to act upon this shift in the graduate’s ‘legal identity’, posits that these ideals are repressed through power relations that create passive receptacles into which professional ideologies can be deposited, in the interests of those advantaged by the social and legal status quo.Using the work of Michel Foucault, this paper unpacks the assumptions underpinning this narrative, particularly its arguments about ideology, power, and the subject. In doing so, it will argue this narrative provides an untenable basis for political action within legal education. By interrogating this narrative, this paper provides a new way of understanding the construction of the legal identity through legal education, and a new basis for political action within law school.