Clinicians, Practitioners, and Scribes: Drafting Client Work Product in a Small Business Clinic
48 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2011 Last revised: 17 May 2012
Date Written: 2011
The recent and rapid growth of transactional clinics, and more specifically small business clinics (SBCs), mandates that time and attention be given to pedagogical methods within this specialized clinical structure. This Article focuses on the drafting component of an SBC. It is often asserted that legal education does not effectively provide students with business-oriented, practical skills training. At the heart of an SBC is the necessity to prepare appropriate written client work product. SBCs also provide an excellent opportunity for students to acquire interviewing, researching, drafting, counseling, problem-solving, and other expertise. This Article attempts to provide a process for efficiently teaching students drafting skills appropriate for an SBC and, ultimately, for transactional practice. A clinical professor supervising an SBC must balance competing goals of delivering professional client work product, providing an appropriate educational experience for students, and, for some SBCs, fulfilling a social and economic justice role. Based on the diverse legal needs of a small business (e.g., entity formation, intellectual property, employment, tax, and finance), the significant role documentation serves in meeting these needs (e.g., client memoranda, organizational documents, contracts, and employee applications/manuals), and the reality that clinical students must acquire other professional skills during their clinical experience (e.g., problem-solving, researching, interviewing, and counseling), an efficient drafting process is required to facilitate students’ ability to produce real world, client work product in one, or at most two, semesters. The drafting process the author proposes in this Article borrows from clinical (collaborative/partnership supervision) and legal writing (new rhetoric) pedagogies, and also incorporates the value creation theory that is well-established, if not foundational, in the transactional law community.
Keywords: transactional clinics, small business clinics, SBC, drafting
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