This thesis analyses professional identity formation in a university legal advice clinic and the tensions, dilemmas and conflicts that arise between contrasting idealistic and technocratic ideologies. The research is built upon solid theoretical foundations and draws upon the concepts of Bourdieu’s habitus and field, Weber’s value spheres and rationality for social action and Knorr Cetina’s epistemic cultures. Through embedding theory into the research, the study acknowledges the participant’s agency but also considers the underlying generative structures for knowledge and action. The thesis considers the literature outlining the destruction of the personal narrative in dialogical interactions between lawyer and client. It also examines the neutrally detached case method approach to legal education and alternative approaches to both traditional lawyering practices and educational pedagogies. Adopting a predominantly ethnographic approach, with idiographic elements, it presents a robust methodology, including uncomfortable reflexivity and a rigorous iterative analysis, within a pilot study, to reduce potential bias. The thesis examines the participants’ sense of meaning and the explicit, implicit and tacit messages relayed within dialogical discourse. A range of identities emerges, with the experiential context of both the students and supervisors proving important to their rationalities. The students display dispositions ranging from anxiety to kinship and a beneficent character, whereas the supervisors relate the importance of procedure and collection of information. Analysis also identifies the influence of the formalistic and economic spheres of power and the tensions and conflicts that arise in seeking to invoke a more personal and relational approach to the learning of law. This innovative research moves the field of legal education forwards into a new domain, at a time when legal educators need to both question current methods and invoke new ways of thinking about the law. It considers not just what legal education is, but what it ought to be.
|Date of Award||2023|
|Supervisor||Pete Sanderson (Main Supervisor)|