Blackstone’s Tower Revisited

Legal Academic Wellbeing, Marketization and the Post-pandemic Law School


  • Richard Collier



The years since the publication of Blackstone’s Tower have witnessed an explosion of international scholarship on university law schools and legal academics. More recently, the UK, as elsewhere, has seen the emergence of a distinct interdisciplinary body of work termed ‘critical university studies’ seeking to explore multifarious dimensions of what has been widely termed the marketization of universities and their law schools; a process well under way by the time Blackstone’s Tower first appeared but which has since gathered pace. This article will explore the nature of these changes and, more specifically, assess their impact on a subject that has itself become the focus of increasing political and policy debate across the higher education sector over the past decade; the wellbeing and mental health of those who inhabit the contemporary university.

Focusing specifically on legal academics, the subject of a growing body of recent research, the article will chart both changes and continuities that have occurred within understandings of legal academic wellbeing since Blackstone’s Tower was published; and, interweaving a discussion of the impact of the global pandemic of 2020 on wellbeing in university law schools, taking place at the time of writing, consider how Covid-19 is reshaping our understandings both of the ‘private life’ of the law school, as discussed by Fiona Cownie, and of legal academic wellbeing as a focus of socio-legal study.

Keywords: legal academics; wellbeing; mental health; UK universities; legal profession; marketization; critical university studies.


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