Clinical Legal Education
What is Clinical Legal Education?
Clinical legal education can be looked at as a methodology, or as an area of scholarly enquirey i.e. a subject, or from a broader philosophical perspective.
As a methodology it uses the practice of law (simulated or actual) as a context to teach substantive and procedural law, ethics, professional skills, effective interpersonal relations and the ability to integrate law, facts and procedure.
As a subject it is the study of what lawyers actually do in practice. The scholarly examination of practices of lawyers is to analyse their theoretical structure in a critical and systematic way and to impart these theoretical structures to students so they can develop a conceptual framework for the practice of law.
As a philosophy it aims to change and restructure institutionalised legal education, producing a philosophy about the role of lawyers in society:
"To create visible models of justice in action to demonstrate a deep commitment to achieving justice and to challenge injustice, teaching law students that the priviliged class of lawyers possess the responsbility to facilitate a just society."
Clinical legal education in the South African context refers to a process which strives to integrate theory and practice within the law school curriculum by using clinical methodology for teaching students substantive and procedural law and skils. This is done mainly through the delivery of legal services to the indigent, thereby promoting access to justice for them and fostering a commitment in the students to build a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
A candidate attorney receives guidance from an attorney
Who benefits from integrating clinical legal education and community service?
Acquire legal, transferable and personal skills;
Develop knowledge of legal rules and procedures in a real world setting;
Engage with a range of ethical and professional practical considerations;
Have the opportunity to apply acquired theoretical knowledge in an integrated way in a working context;
Develop self confidence; and
Are sensitised to the plight of the indigent, creating awareness of broader societal issues and their relation to legal problems.
The Faculty of Law and thus the University:
- Improves teaching, learning and assessment strategies;
- Has an opportunity for research in context;
- Develops links with legal practitioners, government, other service providers and funders;
- Obtains inputs form clinicians who are or used to be practitioners;
- Raises its profile in the community;
- Inherits better students in terms of ability, experience and values; and
- Improves its image through pro bono work and funding.
The organised profession:
Inherits better students in terms of ability, experience and values; and
Improves its image through pro bono work and funding.
Government and its legal aid agencies:
Are assisted in achieving critical educational outcomes;
Are supported in providing legal aid;
Gain access to academic research;
Share in university resources through partnership'
Benefit from the promotion of careers in the field of social justice.