Generational Perspectives in Clinical Legal Education
Clinical Law Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, Fall 2010
Posted: 20 Jun 2011
Clinical legal education is at a crossroads. With studies like the Macrate Report, Carnegie Foundation Report “Educating Lawyers,” and Best Practices for Legal Education there is greater focus on experiential learning. Consequently, clinics are at an inflection point regarding their future. Three distinct generations will determine the path forward: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. Each generation brings a different set of preferences, biases, perspectives and strengths to the table. Given the changes in legal academia, what will the future hold for clinical legal education?
The following are four essays by clinicians from the three generations. They each relay their paths to clinical teaching and explore how their paths inform their perspectives on the future of clinical legal education. In the introduction, Baby Boomer Clinicians, who were products of the social and political movements in the 1960s and 1970s, explore the era of turmoil that created modern clinical legal education and share their perspectives of later generations. Next, clinicians from Generation X muse about the consequences of Baby Boomers’ efforts and how being raised during the end of the Cold War and economic recessions and booms impacts their sense of giving back to the community in relation to the traditional clinical social mission. The last essay, by a Millennial professor, explores her motivations for entering clinical teaching, stereotypes about her generation and teaching a generation that is close in age.
These three generations will chart the future path of clinical legal education. It is our hope that these essays begin a dialogue that will foster an integrated approach that reflects the different experiences and perspectives of all involved.
Keywords: clinical education, generation, experiential learning, millennial, legal academia, clinical teaching, Baby Boomer Clinicians, Generation X, clinical social mission, service, generational differences, reflections, law school clinics, difference
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