In broad terms, Clinical Legal Education (CLE) can be defined as the study of law through real, or simulated, casework. CLE enables students to experience the law in action, and offers students an alternative learning experience to the traditional lecture/seminar method. By reflecting on their experiences, students are able to take the study of law beyond the lecture theatre and library.
Although a relative newcomer to the discipline of legal education, CLE has been around for several decades and is becoming an increasingly popular component in the offerings of University law schools across the United Kingdom. In some law schools, CLE is credit bearing; in other law schools, it is an extracurricular activity. Some CLE schemes focus on social welfare law, whilst others are commercially orientated. Some are run in conjunction with third sector organisations and many are supported by private practice law firms.
Against this diversity of offerings, the legal market in England and Wales continues to undergo radical changes: in an age of austerity, the number of training contracts on offer has fallen and we have seen many law firms merge, be taken over and, in some cases, go into administration. The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s ongoing consultation on the future of legal education may result in profound changes to the way future lawyers qualify and the competencies expected of them, and cuts to legal aid have left thousands of British citizens without recourse to funded legal advice, causing a significant increase in the number of litigants in person navigating their way through our court system.
It is also a time of change for universities: students are paying more for their education and demand more in return for their investment; collaborations with the third sector and with industry are seen as highly desirable; and academics are required to show the impact of their research.
At this one day workshop the Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research (CEPLER) at Birmingham Law School will be asking:
In the light of these developments, is it time to re-imagine clinical legal education?
We would like to invite speakers for this one day event. Suggested topics include, but are by no means limited to:
- Clinical legal education and research – new opportunities.
- Filling the justice gap: the role of clinics.
- New and innovative models for clinical legal education.
- The role of clinical legal education in enhancing student employability.
- To what extent can clinical legal education incorporate legal theory as well as legal practice?
- Practitioner views on clinical legal education.
Please send suggestions for papers to Ms Linden Thomas, Solicitor, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for submissions is Friday 20th February 2015.