The case for clinical scholarship


  • Frank Bloch Vanderbilt University



Lines between theory and practice have been blurred considerably in law teaching already, with the spreading influence of clinical legal education around the world.2 In this article, I address the implications of this trend on legal scholarship – the aspect of legal academia where theory-practice tensions tend to be strongest. Following a brief discussion of clinical education’s still uncertain place in the legal academy, I turn to the role of legal scholarship and the potential contributions of clinical education to legal academic literature. Rejecting the strongest criticisms voiced by some clinicians to the effect that scholarship adds little or no value to the primary mission of legal education, which is the training of future lawyers, I explore the many facets of an emerging “clinical scholarship” informed by clinical practice. I also reject the notion that scholarship is less important for clinicians than for other law faculty, by making the case that clinical scholarship strengthens clinical legal education by helping advance its two main goals of improving the quality of law practice and enhancing the public role of the profession.