Are Clinics a Magic Bullet?
AbstractIn the current conversation about reforming legal education, one of the constant refrains is that law schools must graduate students who are “practice ready.” Commentators go on to argue that for law schools to produce “practice ready” students, they must expand how they offer experiential learning. One potential way to do that is to expand clinical legal education programs. I worry that law schools (and others) are envisioning clinical legal education as a magic bullet that will solve all of the ills and imbalances present in current legal education. In this article, I demonstrate the unhelpfulness of the phrase “practice ready,” and dismantle the idea that clinical legal education, or any other singularly-focused intervention, can transform legal education. Building from key insights already made in clinical legal pedagogy, I offer an alternative vision of legal education as an ecology of learning, in which law school as a whole is understood to be an interconnected and interdependent system that is dynamic, changing, and in action. I articulate how understanding law school as an ecology of learning can advance innovative changes — both small and large — leading to graduates who have better chances of flourishing in the legal profession.
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