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A transformative approach to work integrated learning in legal education

Alperhan Babacan (Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia)
Hurriyet Babacan (Department of Social Work, Univerity of New England, Armidale, Australia)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 16 March 2015



The purpose of this paper is to discuss the current context, scope and problems in the provision of work-integrated learning (WIL) in legal education and how the adoption transformative pedagogies in WIL which is offered in legal education can foster personal and social transformation in addition to enhancing lawyering skills. The paper draws on learning from Australia, England and the USA.


The backdrop of this conceptual paper is WIL and transformative education. The text begins with a critique of existing WIL frameworks and practices in legal education in Australia, England and the USA. This exposes a focus on skills enhancement at the expense of social and personal transformation. Drawing on transformative learning, the paper proposes practices which can be used in WIL offered in legal education to enhance personal and social transformation.


There is very little literature on how legal education and WIL in legal education can enhance personal and social transformation. Tensions continue to exist between the predominant aim of instilling the legal skills necessary to ensure that graduates are prepared for legal practice through WIL programmes and between the need to simultaneously enhance critical consciousness and social transformation necessary for active participation in social and professional life.

Research limitations/implications

More research is required on the best manner in which the ideals and practices of emancipatory education can be installed within WIL programmes so as to successfully reduce the tensions between the instilling of legal skills required to practice law and the need to train students to be holistic, critical and constructive thinkers.

Practical implications

The suggestions made in this paper provide a framework to adopt critical pedagogies in the provision of WIL in legal education. The theoeretical and practice-based suggestions presented in this paper are also relevant to other professional disciplines where personal transformation is desired.


The literature on legal education predominantly focuses on enhancing lawyering skills and competencies and there is an absence of the utilisation of transformative pedagogies in legal education generally and WIL offered in legal education. Drawing predominantly on the literature and practices relating to legal education in Australia and incorporating comparative insights from England and the USA, the paper contributes to the broader literature on transformative learning. Most significantly, the paper contributes specifically to the use of transformative pedagogies in WIL offered in legal education through the suggestion of practices relating to critical reflection and dialogue which are not commonly used in legal education.



Babacan, A. and Babacan, H. (2015), "A transformative approach to work integrated learning in legal education", Education + Training, Vol. 57 No. 2, pp. 170-183.



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