chapter  3
32 Pages

In the Law School Classroom

Hidden Messages in French Elite Training
WithÉmilie Biland, Liora Israël

This chapter presents an observation-based study of the legal programs offered by two elite French institutions, Sciences Po Paris and the HEC business school. The study combined a general analysis of the legal training of elites using documentary research and interviews, with a novel methodological approach that applied ethnography to the analysis of legal education. By combining these methods, the research was able to uncover the major theoretical, practical, and pedagogical orientations that emerge during the course of instruction. On the one hand, the two programs are quite differently situated, training students for disparate occupational trajectories with quite distinct institutional histories and situations. Despite those differences between the two sites, this study documented a shared underlying pedagogical message not easily identified using traditional research methods. The tacit message that is a key part of academic socialization across the locations of this study includes a normative process of acculturation to capitalist ideology through particular emphasis on business law and the figure of the business lawyer. The analysis presented in this chapter contributes to a better understanding of legal education “in action.”