The Integrated Law School Practicum: Synergizing Theory and Practice
27 Pages Posted: 11 May 2012
Date Written: May, 11 2012
Traditional law teaching efficiently conveys an impressively broad array of doctrinal law and theory. Clinical law teaching provides the opportunity to learn lawyering skills and apply them to real or simulated client circumstances. Lawyers know that neither doctrine not skills alone make for a complete lawyer. In practice, we solve real problems, translating the language and methodologies of the law to our clients.
This article reports on a successful integration of traditional and clinical methodologies in one law school course, Bioethics and Law. Students learned doctrinal law and applied it by presenting a public workshop on the topic of Advanced Directives. The integrated workshop model provides live-client experiences to law students and community service. It offers a low-cost alternative to more extensive actual-client clinics, and in a small way, increases access to legal services. Both our students and the workshop participants benefited from this model.
We confronted some issues in the design of the course, which we have now refined to address the scope of client-lawyer representation, and the concomitant scope of liability insurance. We propose a limited-scope representation model that includes student presentation of the law to a group, followed by individual limited scope consultations with audience participants who wish additional legal advice.
Keywords: legal education, clinical education, legal ethics, professional responsibility
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