An Examined Life: Research into University Legal Education in the United Kingdom and the Journal of Law and Society

Published date01 October 2017
Date01 October 2017
AuthorAnthony Bradney,Fiona Cownie
ISSN: 0263-323X, pp. S129±S143
An Examined Life: Research into University Legal
Education in the United Kingdom and the Journal of Law
and Society
Fiona Cownie* and Anthony Bradney*
For academics, the nature of their work means that the Socratic
demand to live an examined life has a particular force. In this article
we look at the extent to which those working in university law schools
in England and Wales have lived up to this suggestion, in the context of
assessing the nature and quality of work on university legal education
from the beginnings of university law schools. In doing so, we respond
to the comments on such work in the REF 2014 law sub-panel report
and make some suggestions about likely future developments in the
If, as Steiner suggests, `more than homo sapiens, we are homo quaerens, the
animal that asks and asks', one would expect academics to exhibit this
human characteristic to its highest degree.
The Socratic injunction to live an
examined life, continually to ask questions of ourselves, applies with par-
ticular force to the lives of academics.
Whatever else legal academics do,
one matter that should concern them is the nature of their lives. Moreover,
*School of Law, Keele University, Staffordshire ST5 5BG, England
1 G. Steiner, Grammars of Creation (2001) 16.
2 `Socrates' Defense (Apology)' 38a in The Collected Dialogues of Plato, eds. E.
Hamilton and H. Cairns (1961) 3. Socrates' own examined life was spent in the
pursuit of a particular form of moral philosophy: on this see, for example, R. Kraut,
`The Examined Life' in A Companion to Socrates, eds. S. Ahbel-Rappe and R.
Kamtekar (2006). However the notion of the examined life has taken on a much more
general application: see, for example, J. Elkins, `The Examined Life: A Mind in
Search of Heart' (1985) 30 Am. J. of Jurisprudence 155; R. Nozick, The Examined
Life: Philosophical Meditations (1989); G. Steiner, Errata: An examined life (1997).
ß2017 The Author. Journal of Law and Society ß2017 Cardiff University Law School

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