Reimagining the relationship between Legal Capability and the Capabilities Approach


  • Dawn Watkins University of Leicester



Within the literature on public legal education and legal capability, it is commonly stated that the concept of legal capability is closely related to the capabilities approach.  This paper critically examines the nature of this relationship and in Part I seeks to demonstrate that whilst they share some broad affinity, the relationship between legal capability and the capabilities approach is currently disparate in both conceptual and practical terms.  In Part II, the paper goes on to consider what might happen if this relationship is reimagined and the two fields brought closer together.  Aspects of this reimagining are considered in turn under three headings: emphasising choice and opportunity, broadening perspective and promoting participatory approaches.   The paper concludes by summarising the potential advantages and disadvantages of this proposed reimagining, and by raising questions as to whether the implications of establishing a closer relationship between legal capability and the capabilities approach warrant further exploration, or whether it is preferable for the distance to be maintained. 

Author Biography

Dawn Watkins, University of Leicester

Professor of Law, University of Leicester.






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