Clinical Legal Education Revisited

"Clinical Legal Education Revisited" (2000) 13 Dokkyo International Review 149 - 169

21 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2012 Last revised: 10 Oct 2014

Date Written: January 20, 2012


In this article I return to a question which was of considerable interest to me and several other colleagues when I first became a law teacher in the UK in 1974. That question was: “Should a law school try to teach students in a legal clinic where they are have to deal with problems faced by real clients?” The use of the word ‘clinic’ prompts the analogy of trainee doctors meeting real patients in their medical clinics. It is difficult to conceive of a doctor qualifying without ever examining a living body, or of scientists completing their education without setting up practical tests - but this has been the norm in university legal education outside of North America. Why should this be so?

In this article do two things: first, I reflect upon new factors - as well as the old considerations - which affect the answer to the question of whether clinical education should have a place in law school teaching; and secondly, I explain why that question is of growing importance not only in the UK but also in other countries.

The subject should be of particular interest in countries, such as Japan, where fundamental reconsideration is taking place of how lawyers are to be trained and for what purposes. Although clinical legal education is only one way in which theory and practice can be brought together, it encapsulates many of the issues in the reform debate. Views expressed on this subject may determine not only the future character of university legal education, but also the nature and scope of the legal profession itself. Clinical legal education thus constitutes a case study of many of the major issues in legal education.

Keywords: legal education, clinical education, legal profession, law centres, access to law

Suggested Citation

Lewis, Richard, Clinical Legal Education Revisited (January 20, 2012). "Clinical Legal Education Revisited" (2000) 13 Dokkyo International Review 149 - 169. Available at SSRN: or

Richard Lewis (Contact Author)

Cardiff University ( email )

Cardiff Law School
Museum Avenue
Cardiff, Wales CF10 3AX
United Kingdom
+44(0)2920874341 (Phone)


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