chapter  5
Revisiting Pearce
Pages 11

This chapter reviews the impact study, Australian Law Schools After the 1987 Pearce Report by Craig McInnis and Simon Marginson, and reflects on changes to legal education in the dynamic period running from 1987 to 1995.1 The Pearce Report was commissioned by the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission (CTEC) as a review of the discipline of law in Australian universities. It reported early in March 1987 – just before the Dawkins revolution completely altered the higher education ‘system’2 and invalidated many of the assumptions on which Pearce had been based. In the five years that followed, Australian legal education changed mightily, perhaps even permanently. Many of the changes were due in part to Pearce; many of them were in spite of Pearce; and many were driven by the Dawkins reforms and institutional responses to them. In 1987, there were six so-called ‘first wave’ law schools and six post-war ‘second wave’ law schools. By 1992, many existing law schools had massively increased their numbers and a third wave of 14 law schools had either opened or were about to open (see Appendix A, below). Along with a change in numbers, there were huge changes in the institutional basis and approach to teaching, research, funding and organization. To assess the effects of Pearce in this rapidly changing environment, the Department of Education, Employment and Training (DEET) commissioned Craig McInnis and Simon Marginson to do an impact study. The impact study runs to some 500 pages – including 28 chapters in 5 sections with 6 appendices. It commences with an introduction (Section I) followed by a ‘context’ section (II), which looks at the radical changes to the HES and the extensive academic debate that Pearce stimulated. Section III contains 11 case studies on Pearce’s impact on individual law schools. Section IV looks at the main findings and Section V draws conclusions about the overall impact of Pearce, and critically assesses the form the review, and its report, took. There are some extremely useful appendices including the results of various questionnaires administered by McInnis and Marginson and a tabulation of Pearce’s recommendations and suggestions with a short summary of its effect. One particularly useful Appendix (A2) for anyone reading in the area is the extensive annotated bibliography.