Teaching Law

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Thinking Like a Lawyer – the Good the Bad and the Ugly

First year law students are invariably regaled with the mantra of learning to think like a lawyer: that law school is all about developing this skill.  As some have identified, 'thinking like a lawyer' is a nebulous concept at best, or at worst, a 'self-aggrandising sham...to justify the existence of a...special lawyer class'. 

There is however a mounting body of evidence to show that the culture of the law, including the way that lawyers think, is linked to stress experienced by law students and legal practitioners alike. (For example, see here and here.) 
While this creates issues for the sustainability of the legal profession as it sees an exodus of early- and mid-career practitioners, and women in particular, I believe it also takes a toll on the personal lives and relationships of lawyers.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Property and Procreation: Problematising Sperm

Recently in the US, bills have been sponsored in a number of states providing for personhood for sperm.  One bill, for example, provided that ejaculating anywhere outside a woman's vagina constitutes 'an action against an unborn child'.  These bills were put up in response to legislation regulating women's reproductive rights - curtailing women's access to contraceptives and abortion.

The law in the US (and elsewhere) continues to regulate the reproductive rights of women with wide acceptance that this is appropriate.  In contrast, the 'sperm bills' are considered satirical.  It's OK to regulate women's reproductive rights, but patently ridiculous to regulate men's.

This shows that reproductive rights and regulation of gametes is obviously a complex issue for the law. (See my previous post here)

This complexity is borne out through a comparison of a recent Canadian decision (JCM v ANA), a forthcoming Canadian case (deBlois), and a 2011 Australian decision (Edwards). (I've written about this case here.)  To what extent does the law recognise rights to sperm, in terms of property; procreation; and parenting?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A Reflection on the Mabo Case

There has (rightly) been a lot of celebration and a lot of discussion in the mainstream media and social media about today, Mabo Day - the 20th anniversary of the landmark High Court decision that has changed the course of land rights in Australia, and a few other things also.

I've been reflecting on the Mabo decision and what it represents for me - a non-Indigenous Australian property lawyer.  To me, the case is about subverting the legal system; it's about representations of identity and how we invest power in the law to do so; and it's about creative thinking - particularly creative legal thinking.