Law Clinics and Collective Mobilization

Clinical Law Review, Vol. 14, pp. 355-414, 2008

NYLS Clinical Research Institute Paper No. 07/08-11

60 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2007 Last revised: 4 Apr 2008

See all articles by Sameer M. Ashar

Sameer M. Ashar

University of California, Irvine School of Law


Poor people are not served well by the kinds of advocacy currently taught and reinforced in most law clinics. The canonical approaches to clinical legal education, which focus nearly exclusively on individual client empowerment, the transfer of a limited number of professional skills, and lawyer-led impact litigation and law reform, are not sufficient to sustain effective public interest practice in the current political moment. These approaches rely on a practice narrative that does not accurately portray the conditions poor people face or the resistance strategies that activist, organized groups deploy. At the margins of the field, a growing number of law school clinics and innovative legal advocacy organizations have played a key role in developing a new public interest practice. These lawyers and law students support and stimulate radical democratic resistance to market forces by developing litigation, legislative, and community education methods aimed at advancing collective mobilization. This article offers a typology of clinical approaches, a critique of the canon, and a description of the features of an emerging alternative clinical model that promises to reconfigure public interest law.

Keywords: Clinical Legal Education, Public Interest Law, Law and Organizing, Social Movements, Critical Pedagogy

Suggested Citation

Ashar, Sameer M., Law Clinics and Collective Mobilization. Clinical Law Review, Vol. 14, pp. 355-414, 2008, NYLS Clinical Research Institute Paper No. 07/08-11, Available at SSRN:

Sameer M. Ashar (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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