Developing a Pedagogy of Beneficiary Accountability in the Representation of Social Justice Non-Profit Organizations
Posted: 3 May 2018 Last revised: 8 Feb 2019
Date Written: 2016
This essay considers the problem of community or beneficiary accountability in the representation of organizations with social justice missions. We look at the issue through a pedagogical lens: by comparing law students’ representation of two organizational representations in the clinic setting, deconstructing the problems of beneficiary accountability that challenged students, considering the experiences of the students, the client organizations, and the beneficiaries themselves during the representation, and then by investigating how the teaching methods might have better prepared students’ for challenges with beneficiary accountability in their respective projects. While this essay focuses on clinical pedagogy, it is with the larger question in mind of how legal representatives of organizations grapple with beneficiary accountability in practice. Once the parameters of the problem of beneficiary accountability are fully identified, we briefly look at the legal scholarship that is relevant to this inquiry –namely, organizational representation and community lawyering (with some attention given to professional responsibility and millennial learners)–but doesn’t squarely address the narrower issue of teaching beneficiary accountability in the context of organizational representation.
In light of this gap, we consider how other fields have approached beneficiary accountability in practice and in pedagogy. The fields of public health, international development, and urban planning have explicitly addressed beneficiary accountability and, to varying degrees, also must grapple with a tripartite structure similar to that of lawyer/counselor, organization, and beneficiary, whether it is donor, organization, beneficiary or government, developer, beneficiary.We hope to elicit best practices from each of these fields that translate to the clinical setting and the training of young lawyers. While these conclusions are not fully developed, we anticipate that the best practices will center on pedagogical tools that address professional role and cultural competence.
Keywords: clinical pedagogy, community lawyering, beneficiary accountability
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