Decolonizing Legal Education and Knowledge Production

Universities are increasingly being required to address so-called BME attainment gaps, namely that white students tend to graduate with higher degrees than their BME peers. A variety of initiatives have been launched to address this issue, most notably by Kingston University where they have developed an inclusive curriculum framework to help staff to think constructively about diversifying the curriculum. However, these initiatives are not specifically formulated for law schools and legal education, nor do they address the problematics involved in knowledge production itself.

Given the Law Society regulatory requirements for law schools to teach core subjects areas to obtain a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD), coupled with professional law bodies such as solicitors and bar associations being conditioned to expect specific types of knowledge in new entrants, non-traditional knowledge often becomes surplus or left to be valued by market forces. (R. A. MacDonald and T. B. McMorrow, ‘decolonizing law school’. (2014) 51:4 Alberta Law Review, pp. 717-737. Given these constraints and there seemingly being little impetus for change in this area, how then can the law curriculum reflect the call from students to decolonize or diversify their experiences in HE in ways that are meaningful to them by reflecting the diversity of their own cultural backgrounds and experiences? To what extent are critical race theory, outsider jurisprudence, decoloniality or other theoretical frameworks helpful in enhancing the student experience of legal education? How can we better understand or interrogate the role of power in how certain racialised (as well as gendered, classed and cis) forms of knowledge circulate as the ‘canon’?

Convenors

Suhraiya Jivraj (S.jivraj@kent.ac.uk), Nadine El-Enany (n.el-enany@bbk.ac.uk) and Sarah Keenan (s.keenan@bbk.ac.uk)