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Clinical Legal Education

What is clinical legal education?


Practical Law strives to integrate theory and practice within the LLB curriculum by using clinical methodology for teaching students substantive and procedural law and skills. 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.


Clinical legal education can be looked at both as a methodology and as an area of scholarly enquiry, 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.


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 privileged class of lawyers possess the responsibility to facilitate a just society."



 2014 Student Group (Photo by Lourens Grové)

Who benefits from integrating clinical legal education and community service? 

Law students

·                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; and

·                Inherits better students in terms of ability, experience and values.


The community

·                Has improved access to legal services;

·         Goals set at national level for public interest are defined at a clinical level and put into effect; and

·                Members are trained through interacting with students and clinicians.


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.