Law Reform Clinical Programmes Should be Promoted in Law Schools: An Explanation


  • Kris Gledhill Auckland University of Technology
  • Robin Palmer University of Canterbury Law Faculty



This paper suggests that experiential education involving law reform is particularly suited to the academic stage of legal training. We review the current extent of clinics engaged in law reform, provide examples from our own practice, and then explain why law reform clinics are particularly beneficial. This is for several reasons. These include (i) the range of desirable graduate attributes and skills developed through involvement in law reform; (ii) the understanding that law reform is a career option; and (iii) the benefits to law schools and society generally from better laws, from legal academics using their skills to push for law reform, and from students being introduced to the civic obligation of the legal profession to be involved in seeking to improve the law. We also provide guidance from our own experience as to what can be done to establish a law reform clinic, whether as a dedicated course or as a way of running an existing course, and set out the steps that should produce good suggestions for reform.

Author Biography

Kris Gledhill, Auckland University of Technology

Kris Gledhill was for many years a London-based barrister who appeared in a number of significant mental health cases; he also sat as a Tribunal judge. He is now a Professor of Law at AUT Law School, Auckland, New Zealand. He edits the Mental Health Law Reports ( and his mental health law related publications include Defending Mentally Disordered Persons (LAG, London, 2012) and New Zealand's Mental Health Act in Practice (co-edited with John Dawson) (VUP, Wellington, 2013).