Carel Stolker, Rethinking the Law School: Education, Outreach, Research and Governance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014, 472 pp, hb, £75.00.

Published date01 July 2015
Date01 July 2015
surprising given that supportive law costs public money and no-one has yet
come up with a Eureka moment for the complete amelioration of family
break-up. But, overwhelmingly, this is a well-written, well-researched, work
with a lot of worthwhile things to say, and I will be awarding it the ultimate
accolade of ripping it off (with attribution of course) from time to time.
Chris Barton*
Carel Stolker,Rethinking the Law School: Education, Outreach, Research
and Governance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014, 472 pp, hb,
This book, written by a former law school dean and current president of the
University of Leiden, the oldest university in the Netherlands, ought to be
obligatory reading for every new law school manager around the globe because it
deals with all the major challenges facing law schools today. While the author is
partly looking back on his days as dean this is not the typical ‘my-personal-view-
on-where-law-schools-should-be-headed’ kind of book.
First of all, the book is rich on information. It opens with a tour d’horizon along
law schools in different continents and goes on to address themes such as strategic
challenges (eg, funding, autonomy vs state regulation, managerialism); identity
(eg, is law the ‘odd man out’ in the university?); education and pedagogy (how
much pedagogy is there in law schools?); legal scholarship (is law a science?);
publishing style (eg, the coexistence of professional and academic publications);
economic and societal impact; ‘ownership’ (eg, do modern law schools belong to
managers, academics, or students?); how to organise creativity; governance,
collegiality and leadership (eg, how to recognise a good dean?) and a common
agenda for the future. Secondly, the author is clearly aware of the current debates
in legal scholarship with regard to sensitive issues, such as the globalisation of legal
education and the marketisation of research via rankings, research assessments and
external funding. Thirdly, the author has a balanced view on most of these
developments but is also not afraid to be critical and to raise controversial
questions, such as whether law schools belong in the university.
The book starts with two interesting observations: (1) although there must be
at least 3.5 million law students around the world and law schools spend most of
their time and money on education, there is a surprising lack of interest in
teaching and learning theories and no shared vision on what legal education
should entail, and (2) in terms of research, law lacks an explicitly defined
methodology and has a peculiar publication culture in which (a) student-edited
journals co-exist with peer reviewed journals and journals where the editors do
the reviewing, (b) academic publications sometimes compete with professional
publications for attention from journals and publishers and (c) a service-
*Emeritus Professor of Family Law, Staffordshire University.
© 2015 The Author. The Modern Law Review © 2015 The Modern Law Review Limited.
716 (2015) 78(4) MLR 695–726

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