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What is a 'Good Jurist'? Contemporary Debates on French Legal Education

Abstract : On September 2008, Paris 2 - Panthéon-Assas University created its Law School. Open to students holding a bachelor's degree with honors, it is also intended to train high-level lawyers. This selective school aims at meeting the "needs" of the market and, at the same time, at containing the place of French elite schools in the field of judicial training. Its creation occurs after law professors from various universities launched a protest movement against a ministerial order passed in March 2007 that allowed some Sciences Po graduates to take the exam to be admitted to the bar, thus breaking the universities' monopoly of the preparation for the bar. This opportunity given to elite schools to offer law degrees put an end to a situation established for two centuries where law (along with medicine) was an exception to the duality of the French higher education system (universities/elite schools). Our paper aims at analyzing the stakes of this new competition between universities and elite schools over law training. More precisely, it questions the way this competition participates in the redefinition of what makes excellence in the juridical field, as well as in the transformation of the knowledge and expertise that make one considered as a member of an elite group. Thus, we will show that contemporary debates about the purposes of lawyer training reveal struggles about the definition of "good" law teaching. Firstly, we will show that these struggles are correlated with the expectations of a part of the legal profession: business lawyers. The accreditation of Sciences Po degrees and the competition that it entails appear as the result of internal changes in the structure of the legal profession, especially the rise of business lawyers. These changes constitute a resource for business lawyers to certify the way they exercise their profession and to assert their excellence. Secondly, it is known since Max Weber's writings that the way lawyers are trained not only is related to the type of existing law in a given society, but also constitutes a source of transformation of the law. We will show that the conflicts around lawyer training not only reassert the centrality of law as a tool of government, but also invite to think about the changes that they can entail in the law itself. Finally, we will show that beyond strictly professional issues, competition around lawyer training takes part in a wider struggle around models of education opposing the French model to the law school-inspired Anglo-Saxon one.
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Contributor : Armelle Jézéquel <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - 3:03:43 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 29, 2020 - 10:04:35 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00523887, version 1


Rachel Vanneuville, Myriam Aït-Aoudia. What is a 'Good Jurist'? Contemporary Debates on French Legal Education. Annual Meeting on Law and Society Association "After critique: What is Left of the Law & Society Paradigm?", Law and Society Association, May 2010, Chicago, United States. ⟨halshs-00523887⟩



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