When Worlds Collide

Reflections on Casework and Policy Work in Law Clinics and Policy Clinics


  • Shania Essah Ceralde Aurelio University of Exeter




In the United Kingdom, policy clinics are generally established as an extension of a university law clinic. Policy clinics give students the opportunity to undertake empirical research, often for the first time in their legal studies, to further investigate societal issues which impact diverse communities. The University of Exeter’s Policy Clinic is no exception. As a new component of the University of Exeter’s Community Law Clinic, the Policy Clinic aims to influence public policies that are relevant to the legal issues that Community Law Clinic clients collectively face.

This practice report will explore the author’s first-hand experiences of working in the Community Law Clinic as a student legal advisor within the ‘Access to Justice Clinic’ undergraduate module at the University of Exeter, as a research intern collaborating with the Policy Clinic on a scoping project in its nascent year and, finally, as a support officer in a developing Policy Clinic. In the context of these three roles, this report will discuss the differences between research practices, the extent of academic and professional involvement, client interactions, and relationships in both clinics. Despite these differences, this report concludes that working at both clinics allows for developing skills in various contexts, which leads to the constant redefinition of integral values such as collaboration, trust, and respect. Ultimately, working at both law clinics and policy clinics are complementary, seeing that the fascinating interplay between casework and policy work reiterates the distinction between legal theory and “real world law”—providing invaluable insight and experience to law students regardless of jurisdiction.