“Law academics probably would be a little bit embarrassed to do that”: Misconceptions of the role of ALL expertise by law academics, and what to do about them
There are many disciplines and professions in which the ability to use and manipulate language is important. However, in law, language is the discipline and the profession, and words are a lawyer’s only tools of trade. This means that law schools must take responsibility to effectively support and develop their students’ writing skills. This study found that, whilst academics in Australian law schools appreciate that they have a responsibility to develop their students’ writing, they are reluctant to rely on the experts in their institutions who would best be able to assist them with this: academic language and learning (ALL) experts. There is a perception that law academics did not need to rely on ALL expertise; they are aware that such expertise exists but do not access it and might even be “embarrassed” to do so. Other studies have demonstrated that these views are commonly encountered by ALL experts in higher education. However, these views are particularly concerning when expressed by academics in the discipline of law, where language is the discipline. Additionally, the views expressed by law academics that the “Rolls Royce” of ALL expert was one with a legal background fundamentally misconceives the role of ALL expertise and should be challenged. Given these attitudes, the article concludes with some reflections about how ALL experts might find ways “in” to collaborate with law academics.