Clinical Legal Education & Access to Justice: Conflicts, Interests, & Evolution

Beyond Elite Law: Access to Civil Justice for Americans of Average Means (Samuel Estreicher & Joy Radice, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2014), Forthcoming

U of Alabama Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2322825

30 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2013  

Margaret B. Drew

UMass School of Law

Andrew P. Morriss

Texas A&M School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: September 9, 2013

Abstract

The explosive growth in the number of law school clinics over the last 50 years began with an individual client focus as a core component. This contributed to reducing unmet legal needs in substantive areas such as landlord-tenant, family, consumer and other areas. These service clinics accomplished the dual purpose of training students in the day-to-day challenges of practice while reducing the number of unrepresented poor. In recent years, however, the trend has been to broaden the law school clinical experience beyond individual representation and preparation for law firm practice. So-called "impact" clinics typically address systemic change without significant individual client representation. In this chapter from the forthcoming volume, "Beyond Elite Law: Access To Civil Justice For Americans Of Average Means" (Samuel Estreicher & Joy Radice eds., Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2014), the authors argue that the shift from service clinics to impact clinics is partly driven by clinicians’ search for status within the academy. Specifically, status plays an important role in a clinic design that permits clinicians to more easily engage in theoretical and doctrinal scholarship on subject matters that are more respected within the academy. The authors predict that this trend toward development of impact clinics will continue, particularly at higher ranked law schools, with the unfortunate side effect of reducing clinics’ contribution to addressing access to justice issues.

Keywords: clinical legal education, public choice economics, interest groups, access to justice, legal education

Suggested Citation

Drew, Margaret B. and Morriss, Andrew P., Clinical Legal Education & Access to Justice: Conflicts, Interests, & Evolution (September 9, 2013). Beyond Elite Law: Access to Civil Justice for Americans of Average Means (Samuel Estreicher & Joy Radice, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2014), Forthcoming; U of Alabama Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2322825. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2322825

Margaret Bell Drew

UMass School of Law ( email )

333 Faunce Corner Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747
United States
508-985-1126 (Phone)

Andrew P. Morriss (Contact Author)

Texas A&M School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce Street
Fort Worth, TX 76133
United States

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center ( email )

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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