Independent Evaluations of Clinical Legal Education Programs: Appropriate Objectives and Processes in an Australian Setting
Griffith Law Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, p. 52, 2008
37 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2009
While some major Australian law schools remain in what can only be described as clinical oblivion, 20 of our 29 law schools describe themselves as having clinical programs of one variety or another. This number signifies that the majority of Australian law deans now believe that some sort of clinical program is important to the educational and even social objectives of their schools. At its heart, it is argued, clinical legal education is simply the best way to teach normative law and the skills of normative analysis and to instill the sense of professionalism in students which a sceptical client community increasingly considers essential in its lawyers. But nothing is taken for granted in education, and clinical programs must periodically evaluate their performance in the same way as other programs, particularly when the prize could be greater overall engagement from the new federal government in innovative tertiary legal education. Periodic reviews by law schools of all aspects of their legal education mix are a reality, and their cyclical re-occurrence provides ongoing opportunity to improve the integration of conventional and clinical law teaching. Clinical educators need to be prepared for the cyclical review process, not because reviews can help to sustain their program but because such reviews provide opportunities to entrench the sustainability of legal education itself. This article is about the need for clinicians to be effectively prepared for independent, external reviews of law school clinical programs. It identifies what a clinical review should examine and what process is best adopted by such an evaluation in an Australian legal education setting, in order to maximize the prospects for workable and integrated clinical-legal education.
Keywords: Clinical Legal Education, pedagogy, Law School, Faculty of Law
JEL Classification: K00, K4, K40, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation