Embedding Graduate Resilience into Legal Education for a Disrupted 21st Century


A fundamental role of education in legal education is to ensure that graduates are adequately prepared for professional practice as lawyers. Notwithstanding this aim, it cannot be said that legal education holistically prepares graduates to cope with the complexities of the 21st Century which is characterised by significant change and disruption. Law schools have a key role in building resilience so that graduates can cope with change and disruption in their workplace and profession.

This paper commences with a critical review of the current context, scope and practice of resilience in higher education. Given its dynamic, multidimensional, context and relational nature, resilience has proven to be difficult to translate into effective educational strategies. Much of the work on resilience undertaken in higher education has focused on the provision of supports to students to transition into university and to cope within an academic setting. Narrow conceptions of resilience which focus on perseverance, as opposed to an adaptive and developmental construct, are context specific and likely to be short lived. Given the multidimensional nature of resilience, graduates may not necessarily be able to demonstrate resilience in their professions following graduation. Little is done to specifically build resilience following graduation. The general literature and practices associated with resilience in higher education fail to address how resilience can be enhanced for students after graduation so that they not only cope with the disruptions associated within their professions, but also transform their environments if they so desire.

Using legal education as a case study, the paper discusses how resilience can be enhanced for a disrupted and changing career in the legal profession following graduation. It is advanced that little has been written about how resilience can be enhanced to foster critical consciousness and social and personal transformation to enhance resilience following graduation. Concentrating on the centrality of critical reflection and dialogue, teaching and learning strategies which are grounded in critical and emancipatory pedagogies are suggested to incorporate in legal education as a means of building graduate resilience through social and personal transformation. Strategies and practices outlined in this paper are applicable to other professional degrees.

Susler, Ozlem and Babacan, Alperhan, Embedding Graduate Resilience into Legal Education for a Disrupted 21St Century (January 22, 2021). International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change, Volume 15, Issue 1, 2021,
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