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Role of lawyers and Jurists in Establishment and Functioning of Clinics

The legal education is the basis of an efficient legal profession which is the basis of a well organized and sound judicial system. It is directed towards developing the perceptions, attitudes, skills, and sense of responsibilities which the lawyers are expected to assume when they complete their professional education.

Unfortunately the legal education was not paid due attention during the British period and even after independence it has been the most neglected branch of the education. It is a matter of pleasure that the Bar Council of India has taken the legal education very seriously and has made commendable efforts for its improvement.

One of the pitfalls of the legal education is that it has put less emphasis on the practical training of the subject. This article makes an effort to become aware of the role of lawyers and jurists in establishment and functioning of clinics.

Doctrine, theory and skills cannot be appreciated if they are introduced without engaging the pathos of the human issues that the lawyer encounters when representing clients. Clinical legal education is a permanent feature in legal education, too often clinical teaching and clinical programs remain at the periphery of law school curricula.

The term Clinical legal education was first used by Jerome Frank in 1933 in United States in his article Why not a Clinical lawyer School?. Has been the focus of attention for improvement of legal education and for creating a synthesis between the law schools and the legal profession.

The legal Clinic concept was first discussed at the turn of the twentieth century by two professors as a variant of the medical clinic method.
  1. Russian Professor Alexander I. Lyublinsky(1901) an article in a German Journal.
  2. American Professor William Rowe in a 1917 article, each wrote the concept of a legal clinic.

Clinical legal education is essential to preparing law students to practice law effectively. Clinics are important because they prepare students to practice law by teaching them valuable skills such as fact-finding, investigation, interviewing ,legal research and writing. Clinical legal Education has been a significant part of legal education since 1960. The first clinic started in U.K in 1970 followed by Australia in 1990s.

The Concept is fast expanding across the globe also. The clinical method allows students to confront the uncertainities and challenges of problem solving for clients in for a that often challenge precepts regarding the rule of law and Justice.

Professor Barbara Woodhouse – Perhaps one of the most serious failings in contemporary legal education is that all too many students graduate with a vast doctrinal base of knowledge sealed within a context that is not translatable into practice. The clinical legal education is necessary to bridge a gap between theory and practice.

Clinical legal education can be defined in various ways.

“ Clinical legal Education is essentially a multi-disciplined, multipurpose education which can develop the human resources and idealism needed to strengthen the legal system…a lawyer, a product of such education would be able to contribute to national development and social change in a much more constructive manner”.

The Clinical legal Education is a term which encompasses learning which is focused on enabling students to understand how the law works in action such as the casebook method, First hand experience method. The legal education clinics if properly channeled may help the students to gain their knowledge.

Clinical legal education is only one way in which theory and practice can be brought together. Every nation is giving importance on the clinical legal education in order to groom their future lawyers, the law makers, the executors, law officers, Judges and law teachers to acquire knowledge through a scientific method keeping pace with the ethics and philosophy of the society.
The objective of the Clinical education is radical, reformative and dynamic.

The Basic Features of The Clinical Legal Education:

  1. Students are to experience the impact of law on the life of the people.
  2. Students are to be exposed to the actual milieu in which dispute arise and to enable them to develop a sense of social responsibility in professional work.
  3. Students are to be acquainted with the lawyering process in general and the skills of advocacy in particular.
  4. Students are to critically consume knowledge from outside the traditional legal arena for better delivery of legal services.
  5. Students are to develop research aptitude, analytical pursuits and communicating skills.
  6. They are to understand the limit and limitations of the formal legal system and to appreciate the relevance and the use of alternate modes of lawyering.
  7. They are to imbibe social and humanistic values in relation to law and legal process while following the norms of professional ethics.

A legal clinic ( also law clinic or law school clinic) is a law school program providing hands- on- legal experience to law school students and services to various clients. Clinics are usually directed by clinical professors. Legal Clinics typically do pro bono work in a particular area, providing free legal services to clients.

Clinical legal education may be simply described as learning through application, practice and reflection. Clinical legal education is directed towards developing the perceptions, attitudes, skills and sense of responsibilities which the lawyers are expected to assume when they complete their professional education.

Clinical legal education has wider goals of enabling law students to understand and assimilate responsibilities as a member of a public service in the administration of law, in the reform of the law, in the equal distribution of the legal services in society, in the protection of individuals rights and Public.

What Is Legal Clinic?

A legal clinic (also law clinic or law school clinic) is a law school program providing hands –on- legal experience to law school students and services to various clients. Clinics are usually directed by clinical professors. Legal Clinics typically do pro bono work in a particular area, providing free legal services to clients.

Students typically provide assistance with research, drafting legal arguments and meeting with clients. Clinical legal studies exist in diverse areas such as immigration law, environmental law, Intellectual property, housing, Criminal defence, Criminal prosecution and American Indian law. Clinical education presents an interesting intersection between the academic and professional environments.

A fully operational clinic is made up of five key components:

  1. The Clinic is part of the law school curriculum and it offers academic credit for student participation in handling cases or projects as well as in a seminar that is taught either before or during the handling of cases or projects.
  2. The students work on actual cases or projects to the extent that local rules for those rules to permit the widest practical scope of the practice of law permit, and with the goal to expand student Practice that local conditions permit.
  3. The clients of the clinic are generally those who cannot otherwise gain access to legal representation, either due to their poverty , their social marginalization or the unique or complex nature of their claims.
  4. Representation by students is closely supervised by an experienced attorney admitted to practice in the relevant jurisdiction where they appear, preferably a teacher with full or part time status in the law school.
  5. Work on real cases in accompanied by a course in the law school, taught with experiential methods such as simulation, role- plays and games , which trains students in the skills , values and ethics of law practice.

Types of Legal Clinics:

  1. Simulation Clinic.
  2. The In-House Real Client Clinics.
  3. The Out-House Clinic.
  1. Simulation Clinic:

    Students can learn from variety of simulations of what happens in legal practice.
    Eg: Moot court , common place etc.
    Other simulations can range from negotiation exercises, client interviewing exercises, transaction exercises etc.
  2. The In –House Real Client Clinics

    The Clinics is based in the law school. It is offered , monitored and controlled in law school. In this type of clinic, the clients require actual solutions to their actual problems, hence it is called as real client clinic.
    In this type of clinics, clients are interviewed and advised orally r in writing and also helped with the preparation of their cases.
    The clinic may operate as a paralegal services or a fully –fledged solicitor’s practice.
  3. The Out-House Clinics:

    It is a clinic that involves students in exercising legal work outside the college or University. These types of clinics may operate on the basis of advise giving only. Such agencies are run by trade union councils and other non-statutory bodies.

What Is The Problem Of Clinics?

  1. The Integration of the clinic within the law school: some eminent authors stated that there is a danger that the clinic will become an isolated outpost of the law school, and not absorbed within its mainstream activity.

    Eg: Problems arising in the clinic can be re-examined in other law classes, research can be done on them, and even action recommended. A wide range of teacher involvement is desirable. However, there is no ready-made solution to the problem of integration.
  2. Extra resources must be allocated to the teaching and running of the clinic.
  3. Difficulties in Supervision and assessment.
  4. The dangers of Public Service.
  5. Relationship with the local legal Profession.

Development of Clinical Legal Education In India

Clinical legal education took off in the 1960s as a response to the social and political movements of the time and the perceived irrelevance of traditional legal education. Featured service to poor clients and lay advocates interested in attacking poverty and racism. It represented first and foremost a commitment to social justice and law.

Clinical education has always had a broader goal – to teach law students about what lawyers do and to understand lawyers’ professional role in the legal system – but it carried out that goal in its early years almost exclusively in the context of having students provide various forms of legal aid services.

Clinical legal education includes not only the clinical courses but also practice-oriented courses and activities included in or offered outside the curriculum. Clinical legal education is more than a vehicle for study of lawyering and legal profession. Clinical legal education should be devised and implemented. Clinical legal education in India has its roots in both legal aid and legal education reform movements.

Clinical education has always had a broader goal to teach law students about what lawyers do and to understand lawyers’ professional role in the legal system.

Formal legal education started in 1855, in India. Many Commissions and Committees were set up for the development of Clinical legal Education in India.
Legal Education has gone through many stages of development.

Some of these stages are:
  1. The Bombay legal Education Committee concluded in 1949,recommended that practical courses should be made compulsory only for students who choose to enter the profession of law and the teaching method should include seminars or group discussions, moot court competitions etc.
  2. The 14th report of law commission of India recognized the importance of professional training and for a balance of both academic and vocational training.
A link between expressed legal aid and legal education reform was published in 1970s by the expert committee on legal aid of the ministry of law and justice.

Reports of University Grants Commission (UGC) also played important roles in the history of clinical legal Education and report emphasized the role of legal education in developing law as a hermeneutical profession ,explaining that lawyers must be taught a variety of skills and sensibilities.

The compulsory clinical courses are:

  1. Client interviewing, Counseling and Alternate dispute resolution methods.
  2. Litigation Clinics.
  3. Special clinic Integrated with Compulsory placements of two months from IIIrd year – Vth year of LLB course.
The optional components of the scheme includes a) Moot court b)Legal Services Clinics c) Community- based law reforms competition.

These are the various role of lawyers and jurists in establishment and functioning of legal aid clinics. Ethical aspects of legal profession must be included in the law faculty curriculum. Interdisciplinary approach to curriculum development is necessary to make the students more concerned about society, to make them understand the requirements of its progressive and humanistic development.

For the legal education to have any practical learning it is important to guide the students learn the lessons of ethics, morals, law, justice, human rights and society in their inter relationship, so that they can better identify their tasks in the service of the people and in progressive development of the society.

The whole idea of clinical legal education can go in vain if ethical side of legal profession is overlooked. The objective of clinical legal education is not merely to help students master the skills of lawyering and make them technically sound.

In representing a client's case in the court, student lawyer must not resort to any means, which is morally condemnable and must avoid resorting to false witnesses and distortion of facts. While client's interest must guide his actions and efforts, ethical and moral values must also be upheld, for in that lies greater good of the society. In fact, in all the programs that are linked with clinical legal education emphasis is always on the aspects of justice, protection of rights and progressive development of the society.

  1. N.R.Madhav Menon ,Clinical legal Education , Eastern Book Company (2008).
  2. David A.Chavkin, Professor of law & Director ,Civil Practice Clinic, American University Washington College of law , Clinical legal Educaiton : A Textbook for law School Clinical Programs (2002).
  3. Dr. J.N. Pandey , The Constitutional law of India, 47th edition ,Central law Agency.
  4. Frank .S. Bloch , The Global Clinical Movement educating lawyers for social Justice (2007).

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