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Hubris envious as Law School Reform releases report

By creative_canberran - 6 May 2011 4

Law School Reform, a Facebook group created by final year ANU law student Melanie Poole has launched a report titled “Breaking the Frozen Sea” looking at the issues of legal education at ANU and calling for improvements.

Select lines from the foreword outlining the report’s motivations (and no, it’s not sarcasm, these are serious statements):

We had scored within the top five per cent of our nation and entered an elite institution. The world had told us that we were special, successful, capable of great things. Like all people, we were driven by a desire to be important. Most of us believed that this importance would be accomplished by changing the world for the better.

By third year, I took a full time job. I did not attend many of my courses and I stopped buying the textbooks.

Law schools are places where many of the world’s smartest, most privileged, most powerful (or about-to-be-powerful) people accumulate.

The report makes a decent effort actually, hubris aside. However to the employers of law students in Canberra who will be receiving their copy of this soon, can I assure you not all law students think they’re “special”.  

Many are driven by altruistic desires to change the world, not a need to be important. And most embrace socio-economic diversity in the ranks, not believing it to be a place for the privileged only.

What’s Your opinion?


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4 Responses to
Hubris envious as Law School Reform releases report
melp 2:07 pm 18 Oct 11

Creative Canberran – first, thanks for mentioning our report, I appreciate the posting. But I am horrified to see how my words have been interpreted! This is my fault, clearly I have not articulated the intention behind both my words and the report clearly enough.

First – re privilege: If you read the report, or indeed the rest of the foreword, I hope that it will be clearer that I am certainly NOT saying that law SHOULD be something only available to the privileged! Indeed that is something that the report critiques. But the reality, sadly, is that people with high SES, private school backgrounds (a category to which, by the way, I do not personally belong) are a disproportionate majority in law schools. My point is that with this unearned privilege there should come a sense of responsibility.

Second – re ‘feeling important’: this is a reference to the educational philosopher John Dewey, who argued that what motivates humans is not the desire to be ‘happy’, but the desire to feel important. Importance does not necessitate a feeling of superiority. My point was that, like all humans, law students want to feel purposeful. That need for purpose/importance/whatever you want to call it is something that our institutions play a significant role in shaping. When our institutions tell us that we should channel that desire to ‘matter’ into a hollow, externally motivated idea of success then I think that is where the desire to feel ‘important’ can manifest into the kind of unpleasant superiority complex/elitist positioning that you seem to refer to.

I hope that clarifies and I will take these comments on board when we have our next print round – hopefully will be able to do an edit that makes the intention clearer.

Cheers
Melanie Poole

creative_canberran 6:13 pm 06 May 11

alaninoz said :

“Many are driven by altruistic desires to change the world, not a need to be important. And most embrace socio-economic diversity in the ranks, not believing it to be a place for the privileged only.”

And I assume this is meant to be a serious comment too. I don’t know which is more risible.

A totally serious comment. Not universally applicable, but still true. Many law students undertake work for community organisations on a volunteer basis.

Erg0 4:06 pm 06 May 11

It appears that the writer is disappointed to have gone into law school and emerged as a lawyer.

alaninoz 3:41 pm 06 May 11

“Many are driven by altruistic desires to change the world, not a need to be important. And most embrace socio-economic diversity in the ranks, not believing it to be a place for the privileged only.”

And I assume this is meant to be a serious comment too. I don’t know which is more risible.

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