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Clinical Legal Education: Comparative Global Models. Legal Education & Public Interest Lawyering in East Africa: The Role of University –based Law Clinics Feb.5-6, 2014 Kampala, Uganda. General history-Overview. Development of CLE: 1960’s- 1970’s (US)

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Clinical legal education comparative global models

Clinical Legal Education: Comparative Global Models

Legal Education & Public Interest Lawyering in East Africa: The Role of University –based Law Clinics

Feb.5-6, 2014 Kampala, Uganda

General history overview
General history-Overview

  • Development of CLE: 1960’s- 1970’s (US)

  • Idea borrowed from medical field—good pedagogical tool

  • Conducive environment/social factors—rights movement

  • Clinics mostly related to social justice objectives & challenging status quo

  • Institutional support from American Bar Association—student practice rules; accreditation (pushing for CLE at law schools)

  • Institutional/Uni support to make CLE part of the law school curriculum

  • Trend spreads to the Americas & Africa –models & focus shaped by context social factors & needs in the regions

Clinic models
Clinic MOdels

  • Walk-in legal aid clinics :widely across Africa, Americas; support to indigent; good exposure for students to live cases & clients; engage students in client representation; ethical dilemmas; honing of legal research & writing skills; responsibility for another human being; attention to the client.

  • Clinic course (with simulations): no live cases, purely pedagogical tool & not service oriented. Main goal-teaching legal skills through simulation.

  • Volunteer/Student-led clinics: not part of the curriculum, student-led initiatives that focus on engaging communities- legal assistance, referrals, legal empowerment.

  • Thematic specific clinics: tax, intellectual property, women, children, domestic violence, immigration, PwD, Human Rights, small business. (US-well funded CLE)

  • Street law/community law model: students visiting schools/communities to teach about the law, constitutional rights. Legal empowerment focused!

  • Strategic litigation clinics (public interest): focus on achieving fundamental legal, institutional reforms and tackling structural issues perpetuating human rights or constitutional rights violations at national or regional levels.

Human rights clinic model
Human Rights Clinic Model

  • Accredited course- part of law school curriculum (elective)

  • Clinic seminar –teaching skills on legal representation, client-centredness, legal research & writing, trial advocacy, simulations, class discussion of cases & ethical issues;

  • Live cases/projects assigned to student teams-full responsibility to handle cases & projects with minimal staff oversight; -cases address wide range of international human rights issues;

  • Supervision by clinic staff—close supervision to mentor students on client representation and making court submissions;

  • Student exposure:

  • --Exposure to live international human rights issues, jurisprudence, socio-economic and political context in other countries;

  • --Exposure to using the law as a tool for social change & legal or institutional reform

  • --Generating student interest & commitment to human rights law practice

  • --Enables ‘student agency’ in playing an active part in fundamental reforms

  • Fora: Regional and International Courts/Mechanisms targeted

  • (ie: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; UN mechanisms);

Cle in the americas
CLE IN The Americas

  • Strong emphasis on pedagogy- CLE as a tool to impart legal skills

  • Legal aid clinics- service oriented; expose students to needs/rights of indigent

  • Specialized clinics- specific thematic focus clinics

  • Human rights clinic model- first developed in the US & spread to the Americas

  • Enabling factors:

  • Social context—1960’s rights movement; interest in social justice & human rights

  • Support by ABA—CLE becomes part of law school curricula; accreditation raises CLE profile

  • Student practice rules enables students to litigate cases w/ staff supervision

  • Additional institutional support- CLEA; clinical conferences & networks, funders w/ CLE interest

  • Accreditation has made it easier to secure funds from core university budget

  • Interest in practical approach to teaching law in US (no mandatory internship reqm’t)

Cle in africa
Cle in africa

  • Legal services model predominate in Africa—influenced by social context!!

  • Majority of universities in Africa with law departments/schools have a law clinic.

  • With exception of SA & Nigeria, boasting clinics in most of the law schools across the 2 countries; most other countries may have established clinics only in the leading or main universities; CLE still not widespread across the region. Some have yet to establish a university-based law clinic as such.

  • Factors affecting development of predominant CLE in Africa: SOCIAL CONTEXT

  • --access to justice focus/meeting overwhelming demand for services by indigent communities

  • --filling the gap left by State

  • -focus on professional training – “learning by doing”

  • -weak funding sources—limited university budgets;

  • -not focused on changing status quo or generating fundamental legal reforms

  • Exception: SA –strong institutional support-State sponsors/supports university-based law clinics- recognize role in promoting access to justice and complementing State duty to provide legal services

  • Recent trend- specialized clinics--example: HIV clinics & PwD clinics (external support)

  • No human rights or strategic litigation clinic model in the region—trend has not developedas yet.

  • Why not?? Limited political space to challenge gov’t action; limitations on student practice in court; formalistic law curriculum w/ focus on theory or commercial law?

Potential of hr model in africa
Potential of HR Model in Africa

  • Student exposure: expose students to public interest law, human rights and social justice issues

  • Skills building: Hands-on experience with live cases & projects (critical legal analysis skills; human rights fact-finding and documentation; legal research & writing; advocacy skills; strategic lawyering skills; public speaking & presentation skills)

  • Agents of change: placing students at center of social change actions; students become players in fundamental legal & intuitional reforms

  • Professional training: placements w/ human rights NGOs (w/ supervision) hones professional skills

  • Commitment to public interest/human rights law- training a new generation of public interest lawyer; lawyers socially conscious and aware of civic duties to their community.

  • Bridging the gap between theory & practice: applying human rights law to real-life contexts & cases; students learn to appreciate and respond to complex socio-legal issues in context!

  • Learning in context: students exposed to topical issues and learn to address them through interactions with local human rights experts, advocates & activists; not purely theoretical learning.


  • Securing funding (weak university support/financing); must compete for funds from external donors

  • Limited political space to allow for HR clinics challenging status quo

  • Formalistic law curricula w/ little appreciation of the human rights clinic model

  • Limitations on student practice in courts

  • National judicial system/judiciary rigidity/formalism