Alberta Law Review
Law schools ought to have a vision for how they contribute to the public good. This article identifies two views of how public value might fit into the mission of the law school. The additive view holds that pursuing public value (cultivating “citizens”) and training “lawyers” are distinct objectives. This view underlies traditional claims that the law school should be housed in the university, and also accounts for the historic tension between academic law schools and the profession.
By contrast, the integrative view holds that training lawyers and cultivating citizens are mutually reinforcing. This view inheres in the desire to ennoble the concept of professionalism, an old tendency that is presently in ascendance. A law school that embraces professionalism can place public value at the core of its mission, deploying its internal incentive structures in the service of the public good. However, the concept is at risk of becoming diluted or being imperfectly translated into practice. Furthermore, a sole focus on professionalism may marginalize or exclude certain conceptions of citizenship.
To optimize its public value, the law school that embraces professionalism should take pains to ensure it retains its robust meaning. It can do so by locating discussions about public purpose in the privileged parts of the law school, and by investing in pedagogical innovations that truly integrate conceptions of “citizen” and “lawyer.” These efforts should be supplemented by innovations that promote diverse conceptions of the citizen that do not fit cleanly into the rubric of professionalism.