Prof. Miguel Poiares Maduro has published an interesting piece on The Future of European Legal Education, where he identifies some challenges derived from a tension between law as legal practice and law as science and highlights how those challenges can become an opportunity to reform legal education.
In my view, his critical analysis is mostly accurate and supports his (relatively implicit) claim for a study of law in context, following the 'classic' proposals of Weiler (with whom Maduro has been working closely in related academic projects) and Snyder, who 23 years ago stressed that
So far European Community law has been conceived mainly as 'black-letter law' [...] it is time to draw upon perspectives from other social sciences and to move in new directions. We must place European Community law in its social, economic and political context. Only in this way can we achieve the deeper and broader understanding—both practical and theoretical—of European Community law [F Snyder, New Directions in European Community Law (Law in Context) 30 (2nd edtn. 1990)].
Some of this certainly not-so-new worries go beyond Europe and are echoed by the work of the American Bar Association's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, which is also concerned with the challenges that legal education faces as a result of the rapid and substantial changes in the legal profession, legal services, the national and global economy, and markets affecting legal education.
The issue is, therefore, of high currency and of global relevance, and deserves some good thought. In that regard, I think that it is remarkable that one of Maduro's main claims is that
These changes [derived from increased global economic and social integration] are bound to challenge not only the content of the law but also how it needs to be taught. This context of legal pluralism and legal miscegenation requires different hermeneutics and the interaction between legal cultures, which is triggered by the Europeanisation of the law, will confront each national legal culture with many of its unarticulated assumptions. Change in what you study is often the fastest way to break path-dependencies on how you study (p. 456).
While I agree that these global aspects need to be understood and mastered in order to become a well-rounded lawyer (be it in practice, be it in the academy, or anywhere in between), I remain skeptical that such a 'global' or 'delocalised' approach can be adopted from minute one in anyone's legal education.
Not to sound parochial, but I think that law is and will always be a jurisdiction-specific phenomenon (in our case, EU+Member State-specific) and I doubt that you can understand the very complex issues of the global legal reality if you have not first been (solely and thoroughly) trained in the law of one specific jurisdiction.
This does not mean that legal studies throughout the EU need not be more 'Europeanised' (as, indeed, restricting EU law to a self-standing module is no longer a sensible option), but I think that it raises the issue that before you can engage in highly sophisticated comparative and contextualised legal analysis, you need to have a deep knowledge of a (self-contained) domestic system. As the saying goes, you must learn to walk before you can run.
Therefore, I would agree with Maduro's diagnosis and recommendations for the development of better postgraduate legal education programs, but I think that extending them to initial or basic legal studies may overshoot the mark. Maduro himself hints at this by the end of his contribution (p. 461), which maybe would have required some clearer disclosure in his general criticism to the development of legal theory.