Thursday, November 7, 2019
Cross-posted from CLEA's series on Social Justice in Legal Clinics.
At the 2014 Clinical Conference, Professors Donna H. Lee, David J. Reiss, Carol M. Suzuki, and I presented a concurrent session entitled: “Just Do It? Whether to Incorporate Social Justice Theory in Every Clinical Experience and If So, How?” In this session, we explored how social justice is implicit in any clinic’s casework. We also thought it might be helpful to provide a means to examine the elements of social justice that may arise in a clinical context recognizing that students come to clinics with differing levels of commitment to social justice. In light of the proliferation of clinics that do not focus on poverty law or represent poor clients, such as some transactional clinics, securities arbitration clinics (representing low-income investors against Wall Street brokers), intellectual property clinics and tax clinics, we presented and explored pedagogical rationales for incorporating social justice into these clinics and critically examined what techniques for doing so are effective.
At the session, we distributed the attached “Social Justice Audit for Your Clinic,” a guide to review systematically a clinic or externship to determine whether or not it explicitly addresses social justice issues and, if not, where it could address these issues.
Two trends make this topic timely. The private sector is increasingly demanding that students graduate “practice ready,” and there has been a push to incorporate pro bono work into law schools to fulfill bar admission requirements. These trends may lead to an increasing number of clinical students who are not interested in pursuing a career in government or non-profits, but are more focused on learning skills and fulfilling a pro bono requirements.
We hope the audit guide is helpful, and invite your thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org.