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Law 264 - Lawyers and Society

(Half Unit in 1st term)

This course provides a critical examination of the development, current state and likely future shape of the legal profession. It investigates the cultural, economic and political significance of the legal profession in a globalised world. It examines lawyers as institution-builders: constructing markets, states, civil society and community. It considers how far lawyers are the agents of the state or of capital; and the ways in which lawyers can work constructively or transformatively for the poor and underprivileged. It also assesses the portrayal of lawyers in popular culture: from Bleak House to Erin Brockovich. Other issues covered include lawyer-client interaction, and the ethics of lawyering.

The legal profession and legal services are currently experiencing major changes as a result of commercialisation, inter and intra professional competition, globalisation, the culture of human rights, pressure to improve access to justice, the intensification of conflicts of interest, the impact of information technology, the changing character of legal work, and the growing number of lawyers who were long excluded - women and racial minorities. This course critically examines these changes, their implications for lawyers, legal services and the creation of a more just society.

Assessment

The course is assessed by way of two pieces of course work: one essay of 2,000 words; and one essay of 2,000 words. The first piece of course work will be weighted at 50%; the second piece of course work will be weighted at 50%.

There should be no substantial overlap between the subject-matter of the two course essays.

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