Monday, January 23, 2017
Through some serendipity, I am spending this week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie at its Exchanging Hemispheres program. I'm helping teach a short course, Access to Justice and Clinical Legal Education Theory, Practice & Skills. My contribution today was a session on clinical pedagogy and program design with law professors and students who are eager to launch a clinical program in Sao Paulo.
After one day here, I have renewed inspiration and commitment to our work in light of the lawyers and students who have shared this classroom today. The first speaker today was Prof. Daniel Bonilla of Univeridad de Los Andes in Colombia who described his work in establishing El Grupo de Derecho de Interés Público (G-DIP), a human rights legal clinic in Bogota.
Later, we heard from Mackenzie psychology professors about their work with Juridicial Psychology and clinical programs for psychology supporting people in the legal system and new programs to integrate law students into their work.
Throughout the day, Prof. Alan Russell of London South Bank University discussed his work and experience at its Legal Advice Clinic. Prof. Russell led the course last week to demonstrate the experience of clinical education and its promise for access to justice.
Two law professors from another university in southern Brazil attended to contribute their work with their consumer protection clinic. Other Mackenzie faculty discussed their work in human rights and their designs for a new labor law clinic and other enterprises.
We all shared our alarm at the rise of global nationalism and our current political disruptions, our resolve to promote justice and the rule of law, and the great need to teach students about civil engagement, integrity, and public citizenship. Clinical legal education is taking root throughout the world, with a deep understanding that lawyers are essential to constitutional democracy. This heightens the necessity for training lawyers in this age of disruption.
Meeting these kindred spirits, committed lawyers and teachers, has revived my spirit and calling for our work in our global community. The coffee is also very strong. Brazil is good to me today.