Learning Through Experience: Developing Clinical Models for Legal Education

Grimes, Richard (2017) Learning Through Experience: Developing Clinical Models for Legal Education. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Since the time when legal education became the preserve of universities and other higher education providers there has been an uneasy relationship between the ‘aims’ of a liberal course of study and the demands of a practising profession. In addition, educators have dominated formal legal learning with a rules-driven curriculum delivered principally in the format of lectures – where students are seen and treated primarily as passive recipients of knowledge.

On joining academia from legal practice in the early 1990s my work has been principally focused on addressing the tensions implicit in the above – looking at what we as educators, practitioners, students and the wider public need and want from legal education and the most effective ways of achieving that.

Taking the importance of knowledge, skills and values as a framework I have published widely on both the content and means of delivery of legal education. Whilst the former (content) must be seen in context – undergraduates for example may have very different outcomes set for them as compared with those an overtly vocational course – the latter (delivery) has a common denominator. This is to do with how students learn and how they can be encouraged to take responsibility for, and make the most of, that.

Learning through experience supported by the means to conduct critical reflection is at the centre of my work. I have looked, in particular, at developing models of 'clinic' where students, under requisite supervision, engage in real or realistic casework in order to comprehend relevant content, be that legal doctrine, lawyering skills or professional and ethical considerations.

This work has been recognised as ‘pioneering’ in the development of clinical legal education both in the UK and further afield, as evidenced by the volume of publications, numerous citations in other works and requests made by others for assistance, particularly in developing clinics.

Most recently I have been looking at whether these pedagogic and professional practice models have transferable value in civil and common law jurisdictions and to what extent they aide access to justice.

The publications – a mix of books, book chapters, articles in refereed journals and other material in the public domain – that I rely on are listed in Appendix 1 to this commentary and show, I submit, how I have made a significant contribution to knowledge through the development of clinic as pedagogy and the utility of this, for student, client, profession and the wider public in a domestic and international context.

This submission looks initially at the context of my published work and recounts a journey encompassing different models of clinical legal education. This is followed by a section setting out a framework for understanding the nature, scope and extent of ‘clinic’. In order the encapsulate what clinic is and what potential is offered a taxonomy is suggested based on the variants that determine the educational, public service and professional reach of experiential learning in general and clinical legal education in particular. I then focus on three aspects of my work represented by the publications on which I rely for this award – simulation, model modification and international transferability and provide examples of these manifestations of clinic alongside analysis from other scholars. The final substantive section of the submission attempts to locate what I have published within the wider context of current changes and proposed reforms in legal education. The conclusions reached include the recognition of the importance of clinic (actual and potential) in serving the various agendas held by relevant stakeholders.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: experiential learning, clinical legal education, pro bono services, international development
Subjects: M200 Law by Topic
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2017 12:14
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2019 17:50
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/32492

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