Embedding Critical Reflection in Legal Education

Ozlem Susler  
La Trobe University Law School
Share:

Abstract

The literature of higher education widely notes the importance of reflection and reflective practice as a critical aspect of professional practice. This enables learners to act and think professionally by combining theory and practice. As such, many teaching and learning strategies and activities to enhance reflection have been incorporated into professional degrees. Notwithstanding the support for reflective practice, critical reflection remains a contested concept with a lack of consensus as to its definition and best practice. The frameworks chosen by higher institutions may be influenced by course context, ideology and expectations around the course/unit learning outcomes. This paper commences with a discussion of reflection and critical reflection. By examining different notions of reflection, the paper will discuss why the concept of critical reflection is important for practitioners in the 21st Century. It is advanced that critical reflection can encourage learners to better understand professional practice by linking discipline knowledge and theories to professional practice and wider insights. Whilst reflective practice is a desirable capability for law graduates, legal education in Australia largely fails to incorporate and assess critical reflective skills, as it is directed at producing a technically skilled and ideologically compliant legal workforce. The authors advance that adherence to a solely doctrinal approach to legal education is no longer justified in the 21st Century, which is characterised by profound change and uncertainty that impacts on the legal profession and society at large. Law schools have a positive role to play in the education of their students through instilling doctrinal knowledge, professional practice skills and critical thinking skills, which foster an understanding and analysis from multiple perspectives, to ensure that law graduates are able to holistically understand the reasons for changes within their profession and effectively adapt to change through informed choices. The final part of the paper outlines how critical reflection can be implemented in legal education.

References

1. Alvesson, M., and Sköldberg, K. 2009. Reflexive Methodology - New Vistas for Qualitative Re-search (2nd ed.). London, UK: Sage.
2. Anzalone, F.M, 2001. “It All Begins with You: Im-proving Law School Learning through Profes-sional Self-awareness and Critical Reflection.” Hamline Law Review, 24 (2): 325-371.
3. Aranda, S., and Street, A. 2001. “From Individual to Group: Use of Narratives in a Participatory Re-search Process” Journal of Advanced Nursing, 33: 791-797.
4. Archer, M. S. 2010. “Routine, Reflexivity, and Re-alism.” Sociological Theory, 28(3): 272-303, https://doi.org/10.1111%2Fj.1467-9558.2010.01375.x
5. Australian Law Reform Commission 2000. Man-aging Justice: A Review of the Federal Civil Justice system, Report No. 89.
https://www.alrc.gov.au/publication/managing-justice-a-review-of-the-federal-civil-justice-system-alrc-report Accessed 20/7/2021/
6. Autry, L. L., and Walker, M. E. 2011. “Artistic Representation: Promoting Student Creativity and Self-reflection.” Journal of Creativity in Men-tal Health, 6: 42–55.
https://doi.org/10.1080/15401383.2011.560076
7. Barker, M. 2013. “An Avalanche of Law Schools, 1989-2013.” Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association, 6 (1-2): 1-13.
8. Baron, P. 2013. “A Dangerous Cult: Response to the Effect of the Market on Legal Education” Le-gal Education Review, 23 (2): 273-289.
9. Black, P. E., and Plowright, D. 2010. “A Multi Di-mensional Model of Reflective Learning for Pro-fessional Development.” Reflective Practice, 11 (2): 245- 258.
10. Boud, D., Cohen, R., and Walker, D. 1993. Using Experience for Learning. Buckingham, UK: Socie-ty for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
11. Boud, D., Keogh, R., and Walker, D. 1985. “Pro-moting Reflection in Learning: A Model.” In D. Boud, R. Keogh and D. Walker (eds.), Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning London, UK: Kogan Page pp. 18-40.
12. Brookfield, S. 1995. Becoming a Critically Reflec-tive Teacher. San Francisco, USA: Jossey-Bass.
13. Brookfield, S. 2009. “The Concept of Critical Re-flection: Promises and Contradictions.” European Journal of Social Work, 12 (3): 293-304.
14. Bunjevac, T. 2013. “Critical Reflection and the Practice of Teaching Law.” Journal of the Aus-tralasian Law Teachers Association, 9: 1-10.
15. Burton, K. 2015. “A Criterion-referenced Assess-ment Rubric on Reflective Practice Designed with Clinical Legal Education in Mind.” Journal of Australasian Law Teachers Association, 8 (1-2): 3-12.
16. Burton, K. 2016. “Using a Reflective Court Report to Integrate and Assess Reflective Practice in Law.” Journal of Learning Design, 9 (2): 56-67.
17. Burton, K., and McNamara, J. 2009. “Assessing Reflection Skills in Law Using Criterion-referenced Assessment.” Legal Education Review, 19: 171-188.
18. Campbell, S., and Ray, A. 2003. “Specialist Clinical Legal Education: An Australian Model.” Journal of Clinical Legal Education, June: 67-78. DOI: 10.19164/ijcle.v3i0.119
19. Carruthers, J., Skead, N. and Galloway, K. 2012. “Teaching Property Law in Australia in the 21st Century: What We Do Now, What should We Do in the Future?” Australian Property Law Journal, 21 (1): 57-76.
20. Carson, L. and Fisher, K. 2006. “Raising the Bar on Criticality: Students' Critical Reflection in an Internship Program.” Journal of Management Education, 30 (5): 700-723.
21. Casanovas, P. 2012 “Legal Crowdsourcing and Relational Law: What the Semantic Web Can Do For Legal Education.” Journal of Australasian Law Teachers Association 14(5): 159-177.
22. Cope, J. 2003. “Entrepreneurial Learning and Critical Reflection: Discontinuous Events as Trig-gers for Higher Level Learning.” Management Learning, 34 (4): 429-450.
23. Cunliffe, A. A. 2004. “On Becoming a Critically Reflective Practitioner.” Journal of Management Education, 28 (4): 407-425.
24. Curran, L. 2004. “Innovation in an Australian Clinical Legal Education Program: Students Mak-ing a Difference in Generating Positive Change.” International Journal of Clinical Legal Education, 162. DOI: 10.19164/ijcle.v8i0.90
25. Curran, L., Dickson, J. and Noone, M. A. 2005. “Pushing the Boundaries or Preserving the Status Quo? Designing Clinical Programs to Teach Law Students a Deep Understanding of Ethical Prac-tice.” International Journal of Clinical Legal Edu-cation, 104-122. DOI: 10.19164/ijcle.v8i0.90
26. D’Cruz, H., Gillingham, P., and Melendez, S. 2007. “Reflexivity, its Meanings and Relevance for So-cial Work: A Critical Review of the Literature.” British Journal of Social Work, 3: 73–90.
27. Dewey, J. 1933. How We Think. A Restatement of The Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educa-tive Process. Boston, US: D.C. Heath.
28. Diekelmann, N. L., Ironside, P. M., and Harlow, M. 2003. “Teaching Practitioners of Care: NewPeda-gogies for the Health Professions”. In Diekelmann, N. and Ironside, P. (eds.), Educating the Caregivers: Interpretive Pedagogies for the Health Professions, Vol. 2, (pp. 3-21). Wisconsin, US: University of Wisconsin Press.
29. Eraut, M. 2004. “Editorial: The Practice of Reflec-tion.” Learning in Health and Social Care, 3(2): 47-52. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1473-6861.2004.00066.x
30. Evans, A., Cody, A., Copeland, A., Giddings, J., Joy, P., Noone, M.A. and Rice, S. 2017. Australian Clin-ical Legal Education: Designing and Operating a Best Practice Clinical Program in an Australian Law School. Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.
31. Ferguson, H. 2018. “How Social Workers Reflect in Action and When and Why They Don’t: The Possibilities and Limits to Reflective Practice in Social Work.” Social Work Education, 37 (4): 415-427.
32. Finlay, L. 2008. “Reflecting on ‘Reflective prac-tice’.” A discussion paper prepared for the Prac-tice Based Professional Learning Centre, Paper 52, The Open University. http://ncsce.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Finlay-2008-Reflecting-on-reflective-practice-PBPL-paper-52.pdf
Accessed 20/7/2021.
33. Fook, J. 1999. “Critical Reflectivity in Education and Practice.” In Pease, B. and Fook, J. (ds), Transforming Social Work Practice: Postmodern Critical Perspectives (pp. 195-208). London, UK: Allen and Unwin.
34. Fook, J. 2007.”Reflective Practice and Critical Re-flection.” In Lishman, J. (ed.), Handbook for Prac-tice Learning in Social Work and Social Care, (2nd ed) London, UK: Jessica Kingsley pp. 363-375.
35. Fook, J., and Gardner, F. 2007. Practising Critical Reflection: A Resource Handbook. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
36. Fook, J., White, S. and Gardner, F. 2006. “Critical Reflection: A Review of Contemporary Literature and Understandings.” In White, S., Fook, J. and Gardner, F. (eds.), Critical Reflection in Health and Social Care Maidenhead, UK: Open Universi-ty Press pp. 3-20.
37. Forneris, S. G. and Peden-McAlpine, C. E. 2006. “Contextual Learning: A Reflective Learning In-tervention for Nursing Education.” International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 3 (1), 1–18.
38. Freire, P. 1972. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Lon-don, UK: Penguin.
39. Galloway, K. 2008. “Statutory Modification of Contract Law in Queensland: A New Equilibrium or Entrenching the Old Power Order.” James Cook University Law Review, 15: 67-96.
40. Gardner, F. 2009. “Affirming Values: Using Criti-cal Reflection to Explore Meaning and Profes-sional Practice.” Reflective Practice, 10 (2): 179-190.
41. Giddings, J. 2008. “Contemplating the Future of Clinical Legal Education.” Griffith Law Review 17 (1): 1-16.
42. Giddings, J. 2003. “Clinical Legal Education in Australia: A Historical Perspective.” Internation-al Journal of Clinical Legal Education, ,3: 7-28. DOI: 10.19164/ijcle.v3i0.115
43. Giddings, J., Burridge, R., Gavigan, S. and Klein, C. 2010. “The First Wave of Modern Clinical Legal Education: The United States, Britain, Canada and Australia”. In Bloch, F. (Eds.), The Global Clinical Movement: Educating Lawyers for Social Justice Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 3-22.
44. Giddings, J. and Lyman, J. 2010. “Bridging Differ-ent Interests: The Contributions of Clinics to Le-gal Education.” In Bloch, F. (ed.), The Global Clin-ical Movement: Educating Lawyers for Social Jus-tice. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
45. Giddings, J. and Weinberg, J. 2020. “Experiential Legal Education: Stepping Back to See the Fu-ture.”. In Denvir, C. (ed.), Modernising legal edu-cation Cambridge University Press. pp. 38-56.
46. Gibbs, G. 1998. Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. Oxford, UK: Further Education Unit, Oxford Polytechnic.
47. Greene, A. 2017. “The Role of Self-awareness and Reflection in Social Care Practice.” Journal of Social Care, 1(3): 1-13.
48. Gursansky, D., Quinn, D., and Le Sueur, E. 2010. “Authenticity in Reflection: Building Reflective Skills for Social Work.” Social Work Education, 29 (7): 778-791.
49. Hakim, L. 2018. “The 2017 Australia: State of the Legal Market” Thomson Reuters, https://insight.thomsonreuters.com.au/legal/posts/top-9-legal-sector-trends-2017. Accessed 4/7/2020.
50. James, C. 2008. “Lawyer Dissatisfaction, Emo-tional Intelligence and Clinical Legal Education.” Legal Education Review, 18 (1&2): 1-13.
51. James, N. 2017. “Digital Disruption of Legal Prac-tice and Education.” In the Network for Austral-ian Law Administrators Conference : Graduate At-

tributes and Digital Disruption - Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia, (7- 8 September 2017), https://research.bond.edu.au/en/publications/digital-disruption-of-legal-practice-and-education Accessed 23/5/2020.
52. Johns, C. 1994. “Guided Reflection.” In Palmer, A., Burns, A. and Bulman, C. (eds.), Reflective Prac-tice in Nursing, Oxford, UK: Blackwell Science Ltd. pp.110-130.
53. Johnstone, R., and Vignaendra, S. 2004. “Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Development in Law.” A Report Commissioned by the Australian Univer-sities Teaching Committee, Higher Education Group, Department of Education, Science and Training.
54. Jootun, D., and McGarry, W. 2014. “Reflection in Nurse Education.” Journal of Nursing & Care, 3(2): 1-3.
55. Keyes, M., and Johnstone, R. 2004. “Changing Le-gal Education: Rhetoric, Reality, and Prospects for the Future.” Sydney Law Review, 26 (4): 537-564.
56. Kift, S., Israel, M., and Field, R. 2010. “Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Project: Bachelor of Laws Learning & Teaching Academic Standards Statement December 2010.” Australi-an Learning & Teaching Council. http://www.altc.edu.au/system/files/altc_standards_LAW_110211.pdf
57. Kolb, D. 1984. Experiential Learning. Eaglewood Cliffs, NJ, USA: Prentice-Hall.
58. Lederach, J. P. 1995. Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures. New York, USA: Syracuse University Press.
59. Liimatainen, L., Poskiparta, M., Karhila, P., and Sjogren, A. 2001. “The Development ofReflective Learning in the Context of Health Counseling and Health Promotion During Nurse Education.” Journal of Advanced Nursing, 34(5): 648-658.
60. Lucas, P. 2012. “Critical Reflection. What do We Really Mean?” In Proceedings of the 2012 Aus-tralian Collaborative Education Network Nation-al Conference Geelong, pp.163-167
http://acen.edu.au/2012conference/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/92_Critical-reflection.pdf Accessed 20/07/2021
61. Mann, K., Gordon, J and MacLeod, K. 2009. “A Re-flection and Reflective Practice in Health Profes-sions Education: A Systematic Review.” Advances in Health Science Education, 14: 595–621.
62. McNamara, J., and Field, R. 2007. “Designing for Reflective Practice in Legal Education.” Journal of Learning Design, 2 (1): 66-76.
63. McNamara, J., Cockburn, T., and Campbell, C. 2013. “Good Practice Guide (Bachelor of Laws) Reflective Practice.” Australian Learning and Teaching Council.
64. Mezirow, J. 1990. Fostering Critical Reflection in Adulthood: A Guide to Transformative and Eman-cipatory Learning. San Francisco, USA: Jossey-Bass.
65. Mezirow, J. 1991. Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. San Francisco, US: Jossey-Bass.
66. Moon, J. 1999. A Handbook of Reflective and Ex-periential Learning. London, UK: Routledge.
67. Norberg, U. 2014. “Fostering Self-reflection in Translation Students: The Value of Guided Com-mentaries.” Translation and Interpreting Studies, 9 (1): 150–164.
68. Palermo, J., and Evans, A. 2008. “Almost There: Empirical Insights into Clinical Method and Eth-ics Courses in Climbing the Hill Towards Law-yers’ Professionalism.” Griffith Law Review, 17 (1): 252-284.
69. Pawar, M., and Anscombe, A. W. B. 2015. Reflec-tive Social Work Practice - Thinking, Doing and Being. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
70. Pease, B. 2006. “Encouraging Critical Reflections on Privilege in Social Work and the Human Ser-vices.” Practice Reflexions, 1(1):15-26.
71. Phillips, V., and Bond, C. 2004. “Undergraduates’ Experiences of Critical Thinking.” Higher Educa-tion Research & Development, 23 (3): 277-294.
72. Pompeo, A. M., and Heller Levitt, D. 2014. “A Path of Counselor Self-awareness.” Counseling and Values, 59: 80–94. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-007X.2014.00043.x
73. Reynolds, M. and Vince, R. (eds.) 2004. Organis-ing Reflection. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.
74. Rice, S. 1991. “Prospects for Clinical Legal Educa-tion in Australia.” Journal of Professional Legal Education, 9 (2): 155-167.
75. Ryan, R. 2018. “Large-scale Legal Disruption Having ‘Narrow’ Impact.” Lawyers Weekly https://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/biglaw/23985-large-scale-legal-disruption-having-narrow-impact Accessed 3 July 2020..
76. Savelka, J., Grabmair, M., and Ashley, K. 2021. “A Law School Course in Legal Analytics and AI” Law in Context, 37(1):135–137.
https://doi.org/10.26826/law-in-context.v37i1.125Accessed 7/8/2021
77. Schon, D. 1983. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. New York, USA: Basic Books.
78. Scott, W. and Vare, P. 2008. Education for Sus-tainable Development–Two Sides and an Edge.DEAThinkpiece. http://www.tidec.org/GLtoolkit/Secondaryhandbook/2c.61dea_thinkpiece_vare_scott.pdf Ac-cessed 4/2/2020.
79. Shircore, M., Galloway, K., Corbett-Jarvis, N., and Ryan, D. 2013. “From the First Year to the Final Year Experience: Embedding Reflection for Work Integrated Learning in a Holistic Curricu-lum Framework. A Practice Report.” The Inter-national Journal of the First Year in Higher Edu-cation, 4(1): 125-133.
80. Smith, E. 2011. “Teaching Critical Reflection.” Teaching in Higher Education, 16 (2): 211 – 223.
81. Spencer, R., and Brooks, S. L. 2019. “Reflecting on Reflection: A Dialogue Across the Hemi-spheres on Teaching and Assessing Reflective Practice in Clinical Legal Education.” The Law Teacher, 53(4): 458-474. https://doi.org/10.1080/030694002019.1667085
82. Thornton, M. 1998. “Technocentrisim in the Law School: Why the Gender and Colour of Law Re-main the Same.” Osgoode Hall Law Journal 36(2): 369-395.
83. Thornton, M. 2001. “Among the Ruins: Law in the Neo-liberal Academy”. Windsor Yearbook of Ac-cess to Justice, 20: 3-23.
84. Thornton, M. 2007. “The Law School, the Market and theNew Knowledge Economy.” Legal Educa-tion Review, 17 (1 & 2): 1-26.
85. Thornton, M. 2012. “The New Knowledge Econ-omy and the Transformation of the Law Disci-pline.” International Journal of the Legal Profes-sion, 19 (2-3): 265-281.
86. Thornton, M. 2009. “The Law School, the Market and the New Knowledge Economy.” The German Law Journal, 10 (7): 641-667.
87. Thornton, M. 2014. “Deregulation, Debt and the Discipline of Law.” Alternative Law Journal, 39: 213-16.
88. Thornton, M. 2014. “Legal Education in the Cor-porate University.” Annual Review of Law and So-cial Sciences, 10: 19-35.
89. Thornton, M. 2016. “Law Student Well Being: A Neoliberal Conundrum.” Australian Universities Review, 58(2): 42-50.
90. Thornton, M. 2017. “How the Higher Education ‘Industry’ Shapes the Discipline of Law: The Case of Australia.” Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity, 5 (2): 102-117.
91. Tomlinson, P. S., Thomlinson, E., Peden-McAlpine, C., and Kirschbaum, M. 2002. “Clinical Innovation for Promoting Family Care in Paedi-atric Intensive Care: Demonstration, Role Model-ling and Reflective Practice.” Journal of Advanced Nursing, 38(2): 1-10.
92. White, S., Fook, J., and Gardner, F. 2006. Critical Reflection in Health and Social Care. Maiden-head, UK: Open University Press.
How to Cite
1.
Susler O, Babacan A. Embedding Critical Reflection in Legal Education. LiC [Internet]. 2021Sep.1 [cited 2021Nov.28];37(3). Available from: https://journals.latrobe.edu.au/index.php/law-in-context/article/view/154

Send mail to Author


Send Cancel