Counting Outsiders: A Critical Exploration of Outsider Course Enrollment in Canadian Legal Education

Kim Brooks


In response to anecdotal concerns that student enrollment in "outsider" courses, and in particular feminist courses, is on the decline in Canadian law schools, the authors explore patterns of course enrollment at seven Canadian law schools. Articulating a definition of "outsider" that describes those who are members of groups historically lacking power in society, or traditionally outside the realms of fashioning, teaching, and adjudicating the law, the authors document the results of quantitative and qualitative surveys conducted at their respective schools to argue that outsider pedagogy remains a critical component of legal education. The article situates the numerical survey results against both a critical review of the literature on outsider legal pedagogy and detailed explanations of student decision-making in elective courses drawn from student survey responses. Notwithstanding the diversity of the faculties surveyed, the authors conclude the article by highlighting some of the shared and significant findings of the research, paying attention to various identity-based, institutional, and external factors influencing critical course engagement in Canadian law schools today.

This paper was co-authored with Natasha Bakht, University of Ottawa (; Gillian Calder, University of Victoria (; Jennifer Koshan, University of Calgary (; Sonia Lawrence, Osgoode Hall Law School (; Carissima Mathen, University of Ottawa (; and Debra L. Parkes, University of Manitoba (

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