An Avalanche of law schools: 1989 to 2013

David Barker

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The period 1989 to 2013 was a pivotal period for the expansion of Australian legal education. Despite the fact that a ground breaking report relating to Australian legal education, the 1987 Pearce Report, had recommended that no further law schools be established in Australia, the two decades or so which succeeded it heralded an unprecedented establishment of twenty three additional law schools, an expansion which has continued until the present time. This paper considers the reasons for this massive expansion of legal education and questions why Australian universities chose to establish so many new law schools during the period under review, whilst also reflecting on the overall effect which they have had on the development of the future legal profession and the legal community in general. The paper incorporates a study of the way historians have been able to classify the various historical groupings of the dates of the foundation of various law schools into successive groups or ‘Waves’ culminating in the commencement of the ‘Third Wave’ law schools in 1989 onwards, a period which incorporates those law schools reviewed in this paper. The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) was of the view that the expansion of legal education in Australia could be attributed to the dynamic changes which had come about in the legal profession, such as national admission and practice, globalisation, the application of competition policy, emergence of multi-disciplinary partnerships and the influence of new information and communication technologies. the more cynical were inclined to adopt the alternative view also put forward by the ALRC which was that law faculties were attractive propositions for universities bringing prestige, professional links and excellent students at a modest cost as compared to the professional programmes such as medicine, dentistry and engineering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association
Issue number1&2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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