ABSTRACT

This chapter examines how Street Law, a community-oriented law school-based initiative in which law students teach interactive practical law lessons in schools, has flourished in the era of neoliberalism. Despite the fact that higher education institutions have adopted neoliberal policies that incentivise a focus on pre-professional skills and job market preparation, hundreds of law schools around the world are implementing these communitarian, socially focused, pro bono initiatives. While Street Law provides an undeniable service to the community beneficiaries, it is the benefits that the law students enjoy through their participation in a Street Law programme that explains the counterintuitive success of Street Law in the neoliberal age. By developing the critical thinking, communication, and other soft skills of law student participants, Street Law programmes meet the evolving needs of the job market. Legal employers are increasingly more interested in graduates’ soft skills and interpersonal competencies than they are in their technical skills. As skills are valuable to potential employers, programmes like Street Law that develop these skills are valuable to neoliberal law schools. This analysis demonstrates that despite its hegemonic status in higher education, neoliberalism can allow for, and even value, seemingly disruptive ideas and initiatives.