Contrary to conventional narratives about legal education, Aspiration and Reality in Legal Education reveals a widespread desire among law teachers to integrate both theory and practice into the education of versatile and civic-minded lawyers. Despite this stated desire, however, this aspiration is largely unrealized due to a host of intellectual and institutional factors that produce a profound gap between what professors believe about law and the ideas they communicate through their teaching.
Drawing on interviews with over sixty law professors in Canada, David Sandomierski makes two important empirical discoveries in this book. First, he establishes that, contrary to a dominant narrative in legal education that conceives of theory and practice as oppositional, the vast majority of law professors consider theory to be vitally important in preparing "better lawyers." Second, he uncovers a significant gap between the realist theoretical commitments held by a majority of professors and the formalist theories they almost uniformly convey through their teaching and conceptions of legal reasoning. Understanding the intellectual and institutional factors that account for these tensions, Sandomierski argues, is essential for any meaningful project of legal education reform.