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Clinical Legal Education

This article is written by, Presha Naik, a student, from SNDT Law College, Mumbai. The further article is about the ‘Clinical Legal studies’ of what exactly is clinical legal education is and what are all the processes which should be followed under this. The clinical counselling and various types of counselling that comes under the clinical legal studies. And how this legal counselling is differentiated from the other psychological counselling.


The clinical legal education is basically for lawyers for developing new perceptions, attitudes, skills, and aspects of the legal fields which will be more than the actual law curriculum. The law students after completing their studies the practice of the law profession can be defined as the clinical legal education. The term “clinical” itself means directing or observing the person who has been diagnosed by some type of serious condition. It is not always referred to as the ‘medical’ term but is also termed as for in legal profession. The clinical legal education sets a wider goal for the lawyers in their profession for not only in litigation it helps but mostly it helps in understanding their client’s perspective and their thinking. This is often more correlated in the ‘psychological terms’ also where in psychology the client or the person who is diagnosed with some serious or moderate kind of mental or traumatized conditions is hereby counselled by the counsellor who offers some appropriate psychotherapies to them ‘the clients’. Similarly, in the legal terms the client who has some issues regarding the problems in business, personal life, or any such problems which needs to be resolved through legal remedies comes to the advocate for getting them out of it.

The advocate, hereby, at initial stages tries to understand the problem of the client regarding the case and then set into legal framework and then the advocates speak up about the strategies regarding the case as the next step to the client. Clinical legal education over here helps the lawyer to understand the point of views of the client and the issues regarding the case. It plays a very important role the clinical legal studies in the profession of law further.

Talking about the clinical legal education it is very important to take a look at the main key role of the clinical legal profession which not only helps to strengthen the relationship between clients or lawyers or with other people but also help maintain a good rapport that is “communication”.


Etymologically, the term ‘communication’ has been derived from the Greek term ‘communicare’ . which means to share or to comment. In simple English it can be defined as the means of information or sharing of ideas from one person to another person effectively and efficiently.

Communications is always associated with ideas, obviously, because sharing of ideas and speaking up comments or sharing of information from one person to another is very important. It is more than an art rather than a science because there is no certain or particular format which is important for communication as seeing it from a scientific perspective but rather it can be called as an art because skills and effective type of communication is what really is important and necessary.

Similarly, language also doesn’t make a difference over here sharing information in an effective manner and the other person you are speaking up to understands it effectively is what a successful communication is said to be. Talking about expressing your ideas and communicating it with the other person understanding it is called a good communication.

Words which are carefully spoken and framed in a good manner and also effectively communicated is what is called as the most powerful source of communication. People who have good communication skills are often seen as the person with various goals to be achieved and because of their good and powerful communication more other people are seen to be inclined in with their work to help them achieve their targeted goals. They can easily establish their business and their work can also be seen to be accomplishing all the achievements with the help of the other people in their work.

Legal communication is where the advocate and the client discuss about the case and what next step or strategy can be more effective in the court regarding the case. This means that in legal profession communication skills are very much essential and thereafter it plays a very crucial role in communication with the client.

Talking about communication there are various kinds of benefits to it and they are-

·         Leads to build a good rapport and strengthens the relationship with clients.

·         Minimizes misunderstanding and also help minimizes the conflicts.

·         Saves the three most important resources that is the time, money ,energy.

·         Leads to some intended results which are to be achieved.

·         Leads to appropriate feedbacks to be received and shared.

·         No mixed signals can be received until there are no sort of barriers to it.

Sides of communication which have benefits also has some disadvantages to it and they are-

·         Sends mixed signals due to barriers.

·         Increases the risks of conflicts and misunderstandings.

·         Strains off the relationships between people.

·         Creates stress

·         Emotional and physical traumas which will be caused due to misinterpretation of information to the person psychologically resulting the abovesaid problems.

·         Wasting of the three resources time, money, energy.

Communication has been further categorized as formal and informal communication-

1.       Formal Communication: In the formal type of communication the source or the medium through which the information is been shared or transferred is from a particular and trustworthy source and through any kind of airy sources. The formal communication is always having some true facts and issues based on the communication which travels. The source is always trustable in other words it has a form according to which it travels.

In the formal type of communication, the source of information in travels from one higher authority of a person to their juniors or lower authority wise.

For example, it is generally been seen in the firms and corporate fields where a certain information travels from the most senior to their junior staffs and then to the other junior, the other staffs in the firm. The source over here through which the information travels is trustworthy because it itself has a true source that is the senior in the firm or any business organization. It can be in oral form or written form also.

2.       Informal Communication: In the informal type of communication the source or the medium through which the information is been transferred is not true also the information from which it has come through is itself not true, you can say that, it has a ‘airy source’ where the source of information is itself not true there is no truth or no evidence or no support basically to that information which proves itself to be true. It is also called as the ‘grapevine communication’.

For example, there some people in an office who are transferring some sort of information which does not have a proper relevance to it or no proper basis to that information but it is been transferred only for the sake of gossiping or some sort of entertainment which in its true sense is thereafter defined as the ‘grapevine communication’.

There are certain problems which occurs during communication which later on causes misunderstandings between people and thus further on leads to misinterpret the information which will result in fights and conflicts between people.

The barriers which take place while communicating can be as further-

·         Online barriers while communicating online through a meeting so it can be network issues.

·         Not an active listener

·         No good communication skills

·         Difference in communication styles

·         Cultural differences

·         Lack of trust on your own team member or sometimes lack of trust in yourself ‘self-trust’

·         Conflicts which were continuously taking place in the workplace

·         No matching of ideas

·         Emotional barriers such as disinterest in one’s speaking up

·         Showing lack of interest, attention, etc.

·         Irrelevance in one’s information

·         No appropriate feedbacks

·         No correlation of any information which is been transmitted

·         Personal hate or ignorance of a team member while questioning

·         Language barriers

These are some of the barriers which can take place in a communication or while people are communicating this leads to conflicts, wastage of time, money and energy sometimes and thereafter misleads you and your information in further which causes traumas, conflicts etc. causing trouble psychologically and physically also by fighting and arguing most of the times.

There are different kinds of communication and they are-

1.       Verbal Communication- In verbal type of communication the word itself speaks up that the communication takes place verbally. So, over here there is a certain criterion that takes place which is the sender first send the information through a proper channel which then is received by the receiver through that channel and the receiver then reads the information interprets and understands it and then the receiver accordingly gives the feedback proper feedback to the sender through the proper channel and then the sender receives the feedback. This type of communication is either spoken or in written form.

The criteria are that the person who sends the message gets that feedback only when the receiver receives the message by the sender through a proper medium/channel and then understands it and then gives appropriate feedback to the sender. The receiver only gives the feedback when he decodes the message which been sent and thus over here a proper channel/medium is quite necessary and also information which is been sent is necessary.

Hence, a communication where transferring of information or ideas have been taken place.

2.       Non-verbal Communication- In this type of communication it takes place non verbally with not any kind of verbal communication in it. The non-verbal communication means the communication takes place without any spoken or written words but rather it takes place through the kind of postures, hand-signs, body language, eye contact, facial expressions, paralinguistics such as tone of voice pitch of voice, low tone high tone, gestures etc. can be included in the non-verbal type of communication. When talking about communication for example, in a meeting someone explaining something in the meeting can be important but the way they are explaining the matter in the meeting like their body language, gestures they are doing or tone of voice etc. gets adding up while a person is speaking which indicates all as the non-verbal type of communication. Even a sudden change in the tone of their voice or language or facial expressions also affects the communication.

3.       Written Communication- In this type of communication the person writing the messages writes it like there is no digital source or any other digital medium of transmission of an information. This includes writing a message, texting a message, textual messages which are either done digitally in writing or writing letters by hand there is no way partially doing this type of communication.

4.       Digital Communication- this involves a medium which is where people can communicate with each other without seeing them in real as in seeing them through a screen that is digitally. There are also some kinds of barriers which may occur while choosing this type of communication. But the communication digitally takes place via internet where there are various apps to get link through and get connected with the meetings and calls. There are various sources through which you can get connected with people that is via the mobile phones, tabs, laptops, computers, etc. visual kinds of communication are also getting very popular in day-to-day life of the people.

The key which leads to an effective communication is always a proper information, a proper medium/channel through which it is suppose to travel, and the decoding of the message by the receiver and proper feedback of it accordingly is what is an important or key role in a communication.


Information whether it is of any kinds transfers from one person to another person through a source but that information has various directions to be transmitted. It can be upward, downwards, side to side, etc. or from sender to a receiver.

Let’s see what are the directions through which the communications get transferred:

1.       Press Release- It is an important term in communication as a source. Press release is an external and formal type of communication. This type of communication is often done for a communication between people or the citizens of the country and the government authorities. It is mostly seen as a transferring of the information from any governmental authority to the citizens or the people of the country. And the source through which such information travels in between is the media or the news press which acts as a medium and thereafter can be seen as the source of information travelling. There is also format while releasing any such information in the media and this criterion should be followed by each and every person whoever is about to release the information in the press.

The information, firstly, should be particular and short written in a proper format. The person or the authority who is releasing the news or the information in the press should not leave it incomplete but rather should cover all the points which are to be written including all the answers of the questions in general which can be asked by the people.

Press release may be done by not only any government authorities but by any big industries or companies, organizations, or also by an individual.

2.       Public Notice- The public notice is a kind of notice which is given to the citizens of the country at large regarding any important information which takes place nationally and internationally. There are some people who are very interested to get to know about governmental activities in and out that is in the country as well as outside the country also. Not only for them but the people who are the citizens of the country who have the right to get to know about the activities of the government or any such issues prevailing in the country where government is taking appropriate steps or any financial or emergencies out of which it is the right of the citizens to get to know is where the government releases a public notice. A notice to inform the people or citizens at large regarding any issues in the country. For this there is also a particular format regarding the minimum extent of the news percent, logo, headline etc. this is not only used by the government but also is notified by any industry or companies to their employees or by a school to their students or staffs etc. also can use public notice as a source of communication.

3.       Goodwill Message- This can also be a source of communication where the message is for congratulating someone or a letter of praising someone or also a thanking letter, the goodwill messages are particularly the messages which are important in the profession as well as in the business world, where congratulating, thanking, or praising someone through a letter can build a good relationship and rapport of the companies. Goodwill messages shows the genuine kindness to someone. Letters in the business world an in the profession as well are not always in of the negative feedbacks or any kind of negativity or complain but rather there are some letters to show genuine kindness and humanity to someone which does not involve any kind of negativity or hatred or not any favors to the other person.

While writing the goodwill message it the lookout of the person who is writing it should write it in short should not be all of himself and should be of a clear content. Should be specific and particular. It should have a kind and genuine or a goodwill tone basically.

4.       Follow-up Letter- It is one of the types of external communication. It a continuation of the letter while referring to the letter in the past. The follow-up letter basically consolidates between you and the other person who is the recipient and to set the platform for continuing the communication between them. The letter where if there is any status or application or a decision after an interview has occurred. Period of writing these letters is within three days. It can be seen in writing these letters in companies, organization’s, firms, etc. either by regarding the previous meeting or following up a job application or also in an order of confirmation, etc. basically, this letter is written by most of the job applicants for thanking of the firm for their selection. The tone while you are writing this letter should be genuine, kind and impressive with a courteous tone to the company. In law profession, the follow up letter is also given to the client for further steps to be taken in the case via emails, letters also.

5.       Call Letter- This type of letter is the external type of communication which is usually either written, printed in cards or else send through an email. These letters are used in formal communication. For instance, call letter for an invitation to attendant interview or exams, which also contains the detailed information about the clients, including the time, date and a proper venue of the meeting or interview which is to be held. It is usually seen in the day-to-day activity of some organizations and companies and firms whether for their clients or for job applicants, it also offers a guarantee for the job if only the call letter which is given to the candidate who has been selected for after the job interview as an employee of the company.

In clinical legal education the study further has a very important topic which plays a very important role in the profession of law also which helps in lot while litigating in the court and help to build a next proper strategy to the client as the next step which is to be taken in the court further which will cause a great impact and would affect the other strategies of the opposition which is ‘planning and strategy’.

Let us see further into what exactly is the meaning and on how it will impact on others.

1.       For a lawyer it is very important to learn the technique of planning and strategy which will not only help the lawyer himself in the court of law but rather the client will also get to know about the legal planning and strategies which will be taken as the next step in the case.

2.       In earlier times the opportunities of case-planning, case-methods, and functions of a lawyer were often missed, but, nowadays due to the subjects like the clinical legal education it help the students to learn more about the steps for planning and strategies and how it works in different aspects.

3.       The most important thing in planning and strategy is that they are the rich subjects in studying and also on the contrary are the most critical and comprehensive ways to learn also.

4.       Looking, at the traditional method of learning in the school of law, it was all about studying the case-planning, case-methods and litigation which were very to be addressed for.

5.       But, as of now, the clinical legal education which is added in the curriculum not just focuses on the litigation but also on the planning and strategies which is to be taken and which also a very integral part of advocacy.

6.       It also develops within a student about the planning towards litigation and how legal points are to be proven as the next step in the court.

7.       For an efficient planning and strategy regarding the case it is very important to have conversations with your client regarding the case it plays a vital role as because negotiating will help resolve the cases and settlement of it also litigation will be effective in the court with the help of effective planning and strategy.

Planning helps in the effective litigation in the court whereas on the contrary interviewing and counselling also plays an important role in the planning and strategy process because without that the planning and strategies are of no use.

1.       Interviewing and Counselling- In the interviewing and counselling of the client it is very important to learn about the real problems of the clients.

2.       The Bar Council of India does not allow the students to practice their planning and strategic skills so thereafter it is the lookout of the college to teach their students about finding out the real problems of the clients and also to work according to the clients-interest as in it is the client who is the main objective over here so any legal step taken by the lawyer should be in the interest of the client and also should be according to the legal perspective.

3.       In interviewing between the client and lawyer it very much efficient that the lawyer should focus on the real problems and the issues in the case which caused the problem.

4.       In practically, there are colleges which now teach their students to focus on the real problems of the client and then help them get a legal remedy accordingly.

5.       Lok-Adalat’s, legal services clinics, legal aids and services, etc. which are necessary for all the law students out there to learn something and apply their law school subjects here all the legal principles accordingly like in practical.

6.       The gathering of facts which is also very important where there are many aspects as in to do so.

7.       There are these three methods initial client interviewing, subsequent client interviewing, interviewing of the witnessing or the witness.

8.       So, the two of the stages where the interview takes place are the-

·         Claim identification

·         Claim assessment

9.       In the claim identification the function is broad from the clients own general impressions on the problems that he/she has suffered which will of course cause some issues and that why they had filed a case. The lawyer over here needs to understand the real problem of the client  and I terms try to clarify the issues as per the knowledge and understanding of the client.

10.   In here, it also the duty of the lawyer to know about the extent of knowledge in terms of law the client has.

11.   In subsequent interviewing of the client although the client can continue to take on the initial interview process that is the claim identification process for identify the claims in the case because this process focuses on the or emphasis on the claim assessment.

12.   The  last one which is ‘client interviewing witnessing’ is where the client is interviewed not that very much in detail, it is a simple way done with a particular witnessing purpose only.

After, the interviewing processes the listening and building a trust and rapport with your clients are very important also. So, talking about the listening part, listening is of two types that is the active and passive listening.

1.       Active listening in during the interview is very important because in over here whatever the client had said to their lawyer regarding the case will be then again discussed with the client by the lawyer as to the lawyer should himself will get to know that he is on the same page as his client. The lawyer will say again the issues basically he will just give the reflection of what he understood what the client said. This will be like a revision of the client regarding the case and thus it will help the lawyer on the other hand to understand the exact case.

2.       Passive listening is where the client is allowed to speak about everything from the very start of the case till the end of the case including the issues all the facts according to hi what caused the actual problem the background history of the case etc. during the client is speaking the lawyer does not talk or interrupts in between the interview of the client. The lawyer only speaks when during asking the questions to the client.

Talking, about the interviewing of the clients and its various processes it is also very important to understand the difference between legal-counselling and general-counselling.

1.       Legal counselling- The legal counselling is where the lawyer at the very initial meeting with the client listens to him first and only asks the questions like ‘what happened next’ regarding to the case and then counsel the client accordingly as t per the case maybe. In the legal counselling the client is expected to pay the fees accordingly in general the lawyers take the consultation fee, then the client accordingly asks for the alternatives which cane be taken as a legal step forward in the case so for that the lawyers may also charge the ‘offering an alternative’ fees and then there comes the litigation fees. They give the legal remedies to their clients.

2.       General counselling on the other hand is where the counsellor consults their clients but does not advise them because advising will be that the client will not take their own initiative to come to a point of conclusion or to resolve their issues all by themselves. So, there are various types of counsellors as such in the general counselling that is the marriage counsellors, institutional counsellors, divorce counsellors, family counsellors and other counsellors who deals with any kind of emotional traumas or any sort of mental disturbances such as depression or any such thing the client is thus suffering from. So, over here the psychotherapists offer some of the therapeutic techniques to their clients to get their clients out of the issues that they are facing, whereas traumas which are mild or small or the condition of the mental disturbances or traumas or any difficulty between the relationships of people or any such things which are not those big issues, the client only goes under the ‘problem solving stage’ where only consultation is been given as a remedy to the client. The fees are taken in the general counselling, but, not in the institutional counselling where the counsellors in the institutions like, schools, junior colleges, is where the counsellors are only there to solve the issues of the students like issues between the students, ragging issues which affects the mental condition of the other student, subjects or difficulty between the students regarding studies etc. are the matters which the institutional counsellors deals with where no fees are taken from the institutions and neither from the students also.

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