Working Papers

Beyond the classroom
Author(s): Margaret Thornton

‘Work/life balance’ (WLB) emerged as the catchcry of workers everywhere in the late 20th century. It was particularly appealing to women lawyers as it was thought that if a balance could be effected between work and life, satisfying careers and the raising of children could be combined. The key to effecting this balance, it was believed, was flexible work. Technology has facilitated this flexibility as all that is required is a computer, or other device with internet connection, and a mobile phone. Provided that the firm is agreeable, the lawyer would have a degree of autonomy in determining when and where the work is carried out. However, flexible work has not always proved to be the boon that was hoped, for the shift from face-time to virtual time has blurred the boundary between work and life, insidiously extending the hours of work and impinging on the realm of intimacy. Drawing on a web-based survey and interviews with lawyers Australia-wide, this article considers the ramifications of perpetual connectivity for lawyers in private practice, with particular regard to its gender significance.

Centre: PEARL
Research theme: The Legal Profession
Author(s): Margaret Thornton

State disinvestment in higher education has been a notable characteristic of neoliberalism all over the world and the corporatization of universities has been the typical response. It has led to a proliferation of law schools with students paying high fees. Corporatization has also engendered a culture of relentless competition between universities, which manifests itself in league tables and rankings. The pursuit of prestige has compelled law schools to prioritize research over teaching, which poses a dilemma for what is taught and how it is taught. The contradictions of the corporatization thesis are graphically illustrated by the experiences of Australia, which might be described as the canary in the mine shaft. While corporatization plays out differently in decentralized regimes with a substantial private sector, such as the United States, its impact on the legal academy has been similarly profound. The dilemmas posed by corporatization for the legal academy require considered scholarly attention.

Centre: PEARL
Research theme: Legal Education

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team