The theme of this year’s conference explores the proposition that through our teaching (and our research) we determine the way in which our students understand the law and what it is to be a lawyer. The way in which we structure our law school curricula and the individual courses within those curricula shapes how our students conceive of the intellectual and ethical parameters of the law. We prioritise, wittingly or otherwise, certain areas and methods of inquiry, and in so doing we send a signal to our students about what is important in learning about the law. In this way, law teachers act as intellectual gatekeepers into the discipline of law.
The theme of the 2013 ALTA conference invites us to reflect on this gatekeeping role: what responsibilities does it carry? What scope do we have to make distinctive contributions to this role? What role should students play? Is the gatekeeper metaphor accurate?