The Juris Doctor Is In: Making Room at Law School for Paraprofessional Partners
38 Pages Posted: 16 May 2014
Date Written: December 1, 2008
The 60th anniversary of the United States’ oldest continuous legal clinic presents an opportunity to reexamine the pedagogical machinery, reshape the curriculum, reflect on advice not taken, and reignite the “movement for change” in (clinical) legal education. The author recommends a modest retooling: Law schools should offer a degree program for non-lawyer advocates. This would capitalize on the many attributes that paralegals bring to the profession. The author's focus is on how teaching paralegals or lay advocates in law schools can foster less costly non-adversarial dispute resolution, sensitivity to human and cultural aspects of client rapport, and co-education between members of the legal profession. Paraprofessionals can help lawyers accomplish their tasks with efficiency, affordability, professional collaboration, and responsiveness to clients.. While the paradigmatic example he offers is a lay advocate working on behalf of special education students in a public school setting, the value added by paralegals is by no means limited to that forum. Finally, the author suggests what educators should emphasize in a new law school curriculum and how they might design a paraprofessional program.
Keywords: clinical education, paraprofessionals, paralegals, lay advocates, special education advocacy, legal clinic, non-lawyer, public school, public education, clinical legal education, legal profession, legal process outsourcing
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