Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books and working papers. Other papers and publications can be found on SSRN and the ANU Researchers database.

Developing a Professional Identity in Law School: A View from Australia

Author(s): Molly Townes O'Brien, Stephen Tang

Preliminary results from our study of law student wellbeing at the Australian National University are consistent with results of studies in the US and elsewhere in Australia, suggesting that law students may begin to experience increased psychological distress, including symptoms of depression, in the first year of law school. In light of this evidence, the particular challenge facing legal education is to look at the study of law itself and examine how the pedagogy, substance, and approach of legal education impact students’ self concept and well-being. This paper begins that task by exploring the formation of professional identity in law school.

In making decisions about legal content, materials, and pedagogy, legal educators (often unconsciously) adopt and communicate assumptions about professional identity that may be outmoded, incomplete, and inappropriate for the students’ futures as legal professionals. The typical law school curriculum offers a conception of the lawyer identity that is impoverished by legal education’s over-emphasis on adversarialism, detached analysis, and competitive individualism. Each of these factors may contribute to undermining students’ sense of values, feelings of power and competence, and general sense of wellbeing. Students’ exposure to this inadequate formulation of professional identity comes at a critically important time in the formation of their identities, a time when we, as educators, ought to be particularly sensitive to the messages we send.

We encourage legal educators to correct the distorting effects of a poor conception of the legal professional identity by encouraging the development of key aspects of personality, such as empathy, that are currently under-emphasised in legal education. We also argue that by improving the ways in which the law school environment fosters resilience, legal educators will contribute to their students’ current and future well-being and to the revitalisation of the profession.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CCL, CIPL, LGDI, PEARL

Research theme: Criminal Law, Health, Law and Bioethics, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Psychology, Law and Social Justice, Legal Education, Private Law, Regulatory Law and Policy, The Legal Profession

Women and Discrimination Law

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

This paper presents a critical overview of contemporary issues of concern relating to sex discrimination legislation in Australia, focusing particularly on the workplace and the federal Act. Pregnancy, maternity leave and caring responsibilities continue to be especially problematic because of the individual complaint-based mechanism, the comparability requirement in direct discrimination and the assumption of formal equality underpinning the Act.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

‘Post-Feminism’ in the Legal Academy?

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

Against the background of the political swing from social liberalism to neoliberalism in Australia, this essay considers the discomfiting relationship between feminism and the legal academy over the last three decades. It briefly traces the trajectory of the liaison, the course of the brief affair, the parting of the ways and the cold shoulder. In considering the reasons for the retreat from feminism, it is suggested that it has been engineered by neoliberalism through the market’s deployment of third wave feminism, particularly the popular manifestation of girlpower. The focus on promotion of the self, consumerism, free choice and sexuality has deflected attention away from collective harms. Girlpower has also facilitated a revival of gendered binarisms on the social script, which does not bode well for the future of women in the legal profession. The proposition is illustrated by reference to the represention of women’s breasts on the cover of a law students’ magazine containing articles on sexed crime.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

The New Racism in Employment Discrimination: Tales from the Global Economy

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

Neoliberal employment strategies, immigration policies, economic globalisation and the events of 9/11 have created new environments for racism in Australia. In this article, the ramifications of the shifting political environment on race discrimination against ethnicised Others in employment since 1990 are examined, with particular regard to the post-9/11 period. Drawing on complaints made to anti-discrimination agencies and decisions of courts and tribunals, it is argued that there has been a contraction in the ambit of operation of the legislation through the application of exemptions and a heightened burden of proof for complainants which has had a chilling effect on the jurisdiction. Drawing on Goldberg’s thesis of the racial state, it is posited that in the contemporary political environment, the state is active in producing and sustaining racism.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

Book cover

The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research

Editor(s): Peter Cane, Herbert Kritzer

The early years of the first decade of the twenty-first century saw the emergence and rapid development of a movement that labelled itself “Empirical Legal Studies” (ELS). This book acknowledges the diversity of empirical investigation of law, legal systems, and other legal phenomena. In particular, there are at least three approaches and research groupings that predate the contemporary ELS movement, which may be respectively identified as socio-legal/law and society (an interdisciplinary movement with strong roots in sociology but including scholars from a wide range of traditional disciplines including law), empirically oriented law-and-economics, and judicial behaviour/politics. This book also explores three key dimensions of policing: order management, crime management, and security management. Finally, it concludes by identifying some emerging trends in the organization and conduct of police work as policing organizations seek to reconfigure their capacities and capabilities to meet new challenges. The phrase “empirical legal research” in the title, The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research, is designed both to reflect and to celebrate the healthy pluralism of empirical approaches to the study of law and legal phenomena.

Order your copy online

Centre: PEARL

Research theme: Legal Theory

The Idea of the University and the Contemporary Legal Academy

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

In light of the contemporary moves to transform the Australian university by subjecting it to the values of the market, the traditional idea of the university is in jeopardy. Freedom to teach, the unity of teaching and research, and academic selfgovernance are key factors associated with this idea. With its primarily professional and vocational focus, law has tended to be somewhat more ambivalent than the humanities about the freedoms associated with teaching and the pursuit of knowledge. Nevertheless, a liberal legal education is an ideal to which law schools have aspired over the last two or three decades. This article argues that, after a brief flirtation with a more humanistic legal education, the market is causing a swing back to a technocratic and doctrinal approach. The article draws on key proponents of the 'idea of the university', namely, Newman, Humboldt and Jaspers to consider what light these theorists might shed on the dilemma posed by the market imperative. It is suggested that a disregard for the presuppositions of the market could be disastrous for the future of the university law school.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

The Law School, the Market, and the New Knowledge Economy

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

This paper considers how recent changes in higher education are impacting on the discipline of law, causing the critical scholarly space to contract in favour of that which is market-based and applied. The charging of high fees has transformed the delicate relationship between student and teacher into one of ‘customer’ and ‘service provider’. Changes in pedagogy, modes of delivery and assessment have all contributed to the narrowing of the curriculum in a way that supports the market. The paper will briefly illustrate the way the transformation has occurred and consider its effect on legal education and the legal academy.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

Desegregation and the Struggle for Equal Schooling: Rolling the Rock of Sisyphus

Author(s): Molly Townes O'Brien

Economic integration and citizen equality have been core ideals of American public schooling since its founding. The egalitarian ideals of free schooling, however, have never matched public school reality. Closing the gap between the idealistic rhetoric and the discriminatory reality of public schooling has been the target of school reform for decades and a major goal of the Civil Rights movement. This chapter recounts the effort to achieve equal educational opportunity for African Americans through school desegregation. Beginning with 19th century cases and continuing through Brown v. Board of Education to Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, this chapter provides an overview of the litigation and court decisions dealing with school segregation and desegregation, and creates a picture of advancement toward and retrenchment from the goals of equal educational opportunity. It compares school reformers to Sisyphus, struggling mightily to push schools toward the ideals of equal opportunity and equal access, only to see progress roll back, time and again.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, PEARL

Research theme: Criminal Law, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Social Justice, Legal Education

Civil Procedure: Commentary and Materials 4th Edition Alternative Dispute Resolution

Author(s): Molly Townes O'Brien

This chapter provides an overview of the theory and practice of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It discusses the growing need for methods other than litigation to resolve disputes, and focuses upon the growth of mediation, and to a lesser extent arbitration, in Australia. Other methods of dispute resolution are also discussed.

In the context of mediation, the structure of the mediation process is outlined, and the nature of consensual dispute resolution is explained. Four of the key features of mediation, namely accessibility, voluntariness, confidentiality and facilitation are analysed. Other issues such as power imbalance, enforceability of agreements to mediate and evaluation of mediation are also discussed.

The process of arbitration is then introduced, and the requirements of the Commercial Arbitration Acts are outlined. Finally, court-annexed mediation and arbitration, and the role of the legal profession in ADR practice are discussed.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CCL, CIPL, LGDI, PEARL

Research theme: Criminal Law, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Psychology, Law and Social Justice, Legal Education, Private Law, Regulatory Law and Policy, The Legal Profession

Civil Procedure: Commentary and Materials 4th Edition Alternative Dispute Resolution

Author(s): Molly Townes O'Brien

This chapter provides an overview of the theory and practice of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It discusses the growing need for methods other than litigation to resolve disputes, and focuses upon the growth of mediation, and to a lesser extent arbitration, in Australia. Other methods of dispute resolution are also discussed.

In the context of mediation, the structure of the mediation process is outlined, and the nature of consensual dispute resolution is explained. Four of the key features of mediation, namely accessibility, voluntariness, confidentiality and facilitation are analysed. Other issues such as power imbalance, enforceability of agreements to mediate and evaluation of mediation are also discussed.

The process of arbitration is then introduced, and the requirements of the Commercial Arbitration Acts are outlined. Finally, court-annexed mediation and arbitration, and the role of the legal profession in ADR practice are discussed.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CCL, CIPL, LGDI, PEARL

Research theme: Criminal Law, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Psychology, Law and Social Justice, Legal Education, Private Law, Regulatory Law and Policy, The Legal Profession

Disabling Discrimination Legislation: The High Court and Judicial Activism

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

This article takes issue with detractors of judicial activism, such as Australian High Court judge, Dyson Heydon, who claim that it undermines the rule of law. It is argued that all judging necessarily involves an activist element because of the choices that judges make. Their reliance on values is starkly illustrated in the area of discrimination law where there may be no precedents and judges are perennially faced with interpretative crossroads. The neoliberal turn and a change in the political composition of the Australian High Court post-Wik underscore the activist role. With particular reference to the disability discrimination decisions handed down by the Court in the last two decades, it is argued that it is not so much the progressive judges as the conservatives who are the rogue activists engaged in corroding the rule of law; because of the way they consistently subvert legislative intent.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

The Spectral Ground: Religious Belief Discrimination

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

This paper considers the ground of religious belief under anti-discrimination law and argues that it is a spectral ground. While discrimination is proscribed in the same way as other grounds, religious belief is never defined; it merely has to be ‘lawful’, which is also not defined. While the proscription emerged from an official commitment to state secularism, in addition to tolerance and diversity, its permeable character allows mainstream Christianity, neoconservative fundamentalism and other variables to seep into it. An analysis of discrimination complaints shows how this occurs metonymically through proscribed grounds, such as sex, sexuality, ethnicity and race. The phenomenon is most marked post-9/11 through what has come to be known as ‘Islamophobia’. The proscription of religious vilification and incitement to religious hatred, which takes discrimination on the ground of religious belief to a new plane, further reveals the tendency of the spectral ground to absorb prevailing political influences.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

The Wages of Sin: Compensation for Indigenous Workers

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

After two centuries of exploitation, Indigenous people in Australia are now engaged in a struggle to recover what has come to be known as ‘stolen wages’, although there is uncertainty as to the best legal avenue. This article overviews the course of the struggle, which began in the industrial arena but moved to the discrimination arena, where modest damages have been awarded, although academic commentary favours breach of fiduciary duty or breach of trust. Drawing on the Kantian binary of active and passive citizens, the authors argue that the initiation of civil action represents an important site of active citizenship. Viewed in this light, it is argued that breach of fiduciary duty should be rejected, if the time of the misappropriation allows it, as it instantiates the passivity and inequality associated with the colonial era, while breach of trust entails monumental problems of proof. Further recourse to anti-discrimination legislation is advocated because its theoretical framework is based on equality - a foundational premise of citizenship.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

Academic Un-Freedom in the New Knowledge Economy

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

This chapter considers the impact on research of the neoliberal turn, a world-wide phenomenon. Instead of the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, research is now expected to have use value in the market. What is privileged is its status and income-generating capacity, together with its value to end users. Drawing on the notion of governmentality, the chapter shows how the market ideology came to be quickly accepted through mechanisms of control that emerged at the supranational, the national, the university and the individual levels. The chapter considers how public goods, such as academic freedom, are being eroded as a result of the commodification and privatisation of knowledge.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

The Idea of the University and the Contemporary Legal Academy

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

In light of the contemporary moves to transform the Australian university by subjecting it to the values of the market, the traditional idea of the university is in jeopardy. Freedom to teach, the unity of teaching and research, and academic selfgovernance are key factors associated with this idea. With its primarily professional and vocational focus, law has tended to be somewhat more ambivalent than the humanities about the freedoms associated with teaching and the pursuit of knowledge. Nevertheless, a liberal legal education is an ideal to which law schools have aspired over the last two or three decades. This article argues that, after a brief flirtation with a more humanistic legal education, the market is causing a swing back to a technocratic and doctrinal approach. The article draws on key proponents of the 'idea of the university', namely, Newman, Humboldt and Jaspers to consider what light these theorists might shed on the dilemma posed by the market imperative. It is suggested that a disregard for the presuppositions of the market could be disastrous for the future of the university law school.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

The Spectral Ground: Religious Belief Discrimination

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

This paper considers the ground of religious belief under anti-discrimination law and argues that it is a spectral ground. While discrimination is proscribed in the same way as other grounds, religious belief is never defined; it merely has to be ‘lawful’, which is also not defined. While the proscription emerged from an official commitment to state secularism, in addition to tolerance and diversity, its permeable character allows mainstream Christianity, neoconservative fundamentalism and other variables to seep into it. An analysis of discrimination complaints shows how this occurs metonymically through proscribed grounds, such as sex, sexuality, ethnicity and race. The phenomenon is most marked post-9/11 through what has come to be known as ‘Islamophobia’. The proscription of religious vilification and incitement to religious hatred, which takes discrimination on the ground of religious belief to a new plane, further reveals the tendency of the spectral ground to absorb prevailing political influences.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

Academic Un-Freedom in the New Knowledge Economy

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

This chapter considers the impact on research of the neoliberal turn, a world-wide phenomenon. Instead of the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, research is now expected to have use value in the market. What is privileged is its status and income-generating capacity, together with its value to end users. Drawing on the notion of governmentality, the chapter shows how the market ideology came to be quickly accepted through mechanisms of control that emerged at the supranational, the national, the university and the individual levels. The chapter considers how public goods, such as academic freedom, are being eroded as a result of the commodification and privatisation of knowledge.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

Disabling Discrimination Legislation: The High Court and Judicial Activism

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

This article takes issue with detractors of judicial activism, such as Australian High Court judge, Dyson Heydon, who claim that it undermines the rule of law. It is argued that all judging necessarily involves an activist element because of the choices that judges make. Their reliance on values is starkly illustrated in the area of discrimination law where there may be no precedents and judges are perennially faced with interpretative crossroads. The neoliberal turn and a change in the political composition of the Australian High Court post-Wik underscore the activist role. With particular reference to the disability discrimination decisions handed down by the Court in the last two decades, it is argued that it is not so much the progressive judges as the conservatives who are the rogue activists engaged in corroding the rule of law; because of the way they consistently subvert legislative intent.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

The Law School, the Market and the New Knowledge Economy

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

This paper considers how recent changes in higher education are impacting on the discipline of law, causing the critical scholarly space to contract in favour of that which is market-based and applied. The charging of high fees has transformed the delicate relationship between student and teacher into one of "customer" and "service provider". Changes in pedagogy, modes of delivery and assessment have all contributed to the narrowing of the curriculum in a way that supports the market. The paper will briefly illustrate the way the transformation has occurred and consider its effect on legal education and the legal academy.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

Contemporary Research and the Ambiguity of Critique

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

Within the marketised context of higher education, research is valued less for its contribution to scholarship than for its income-generating capacity and value to end users. Commodification has significant ramifications for academic freedom as can be seen by the example of research consultancies. Academic freedom is also being affected by the direct interference of neoliberal governments in research policy. While terror censorship is a dramatic manifestation of interference, critical research is also affected by the everyday practices of the contemporary academy. All these factors contribute to the production of de-politicised knowledge.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, PEARL

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

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