The Ambivalent Role of Experiential Learning in American Legal Education and the Problem of Legal Culture
10 German Law Journal 119 (No. 6, 2009)
8 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2015
Date Written: July 1, 2009
Recent criticism of American legal education has focused on its being theory-driven rather than practice driven, which either produces or reinforces a divide or gap between theory and practice. Yet two of its prominent features expressly draw upon experiential learning, one directly by sending students into experiential learning situations (legal clinics) and the other indirectly by bringing instructors who are engaged full-time in active practice into the classroom (adjunct faculty). This article briefly reviews the ambivalent position of clinics and adjunct faculty in American legal education, to explore the degree to which these approaches to skills development can, or should, be transplanted to other systems of legal education. Drawing on accounts of efforts to develop clinical methods in countries with less adversarial systems, it concludes that legal culture is a critical element in the success, or lack thereof, in transplantation of these approaches.
Keywords: Experiential Learning, Legal Education, Internships, Clinical Education, Adjunct Faculty
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