: Law & Culture

Law & Culture

Law and CultureIn our Law & Culture column, you will find original works of fiction, reviews of a wide range of publications — not just conventional legal texts — as well as broader cultural forms such as films, TV shows, CDs, DVDs, art exhibitions and so on. The column links in with the Alternative Law Journal’s focus on law for the disadvantaged, human rights law and law reform.

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Rethinking the Law School

Kate Galloway

Education, Research, Outreach and Governance

Carel Stolker; Cambridge, 2015; 472 pages; $125 (hardcover)

Law schools lie at the intersection of influence by the judiciary, the profession, the university, government, industry and the citizen. In this most detailed book, Carel Stolker navigates the complex and often competing regulatory and conceptual imperatives of the law school. Impressively, his view is truly global. The reader is taken on an international journey and while there are obviously great jurisdictional differences, Stolker highlights that law schools perhaps share more in common than might be thought.

The book has 12 chapters, but can roughly be conceptualised as covering the university, the identity of the law school, legal education, legal scholarship, engagement and governance. There are two aspects of this in particular that I would like to canvass here — characteristics that are relevant not just to legal educators, but to the legal profession and society more broadly.

The first of these is the question of law as an academic discipline within the university. Caught between academe and the profession; between the local and the global, the answer to this question in the Australian context over recent decades has been resoundingly in favour of its academic nature. Slowly however, having largely closed off professional pathways to practice, work integrated learning and a skills orientation is entering the university.

In chapter three, Stolker articulates the arguments for and against law-as-academic. He posits reasons for the outsider status of law within the university, and suggests four reasons why law is academic: ‘its impact on people and society, its complexity, its connection to other disciplines and its role in raising future legal scholars.’ I think that these questions are worthwhile for the profession and the academy to consider in our own context of the massification and vocationalisation of higher education. What is it that we are trying to achieve through university education — or training — of lawyers? Can we achieve both vocational and academic skills together? These are issues not just affecting law, I suspect, but other disciplines also.

(2015) 40(3) AltLJ 218


Barristers Solicitors Pettifoggers

David Gibson

barristers-solicitors-pettifogers-coverProfiles in Australian Colonial Legal History

Simon Smith; Maverick Publications, 2014; 
223 pages; $39.95 (paperback)

Pettifogger: an inferior legal practitioner, especially one who deals with petty cases or employs dubious practices.

Simon Smith shines a light on the early days of legal practice in the Australian colonies in Barristers Solicitors Pettifoggers.

Smith has previously written Maverick Litigants — a history of some of Australia’s most notable vexatious litigants. If that book covered the plight of those who wanted to litigate but couldn’t, Barristers Solicitors Pettifoggers covers the story of those who did litigate but shouldn’t have — pettifoggers whose place in legal history was due to the dubious distinction of having been struck off.

An example is Horatio Nelson Carrington who began his career on the Isle of Man. Even in the early days of his practice, the omens weren’t good — his Principal on the island was himself struck off. After some ill-judged litigation on his own behalf (another bad omen), he took his family to the colonies.

(2015) 40(3) AltLJ 218


Australian Feminist Judgments: Righting And Rewriting Law

Kcasey McLoughlin

Australian-Feminist-Judgments150Heather Douglas, Francesca Bartlett, Trish Luker and Rosemary Hunter (eds); Hart Publishing, 2014; 462pp; $75 (paperback)

By re-imagining and rewriting well-known cases through a feminist lens Australian Feminist Judgments: Righting and Rewriting Law enlivens the reader’s imagination about the real transformative potential of feminist legal reasoning. The book’s premise is to explore the possibilities and limitations of feminist jurisprudence by rewriting cases from a feminist perspective while maintaining that the decisions must be legally plausible. The re-crafted decisions span across different times, jurisdictions and subject matter but each prompts us to think about what we take for granted and what can be done differently when it comes to judicial method.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 144


Girl Trouble: Panic And Progress In The History Of Young Women

Beth Wilson

girl-trouble-carol-dyhouse-150Carol Dyhouse; Fernwood Publishing, 2014; 328 pp; $16.95 (paperback)

‘Are girls better off today than they were at the beginning of the twentieth century?’ Carol Dyhouse, social historian and research professor of history at the University of Sussex, answers her own question: ‘In parts of the world girls suffer disproportionately from poverty, lack of education, and appalling levels of sexual violence. But there can be no doubt that in some countries, at least, they have more opportunities, more choices, and infinitely more personal freedom than ever before.’ She goes on to question the impact of modernity on girls and examines whether they have emerged as winners or losers in modern history.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 145


Law Of The Jungle

Evan Hamman

Law-of-the-Jungle-150The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil In The Rain Forest And The Lawyer Who’d Stop At Nothing To Win

Paul M Barrett; Crown Publishing, 2014; 302 pages; $26 (paperback)

The story Paul Barrett tells in Law of the Jungle is nothing short of extraordinary. In the 1970s and 80s, Texaco (now Chevron) drilled for oil deep in the Ecuadorian rainforest. What they left behind was a legacy of disgraceful environmental mismanagement: hundreds of unlined oil waste pits and evidence (disputed) of widespread contamination causing serious human health impacts on the local people. The ‘Amazon Chernobyl’ as it’s been dubbed by some.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 145


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