Specialist Legal Clinics: their pedagogy, risks and payoffs as externships
AbstractWithin clinical legal education there is a great deal of discussion at the moment about externships. Part of the motivation for all this conversation is the desire of law schools to get in on the clinical ‘act’ as inexpensively as possible. Some law Deans have the view that they can outsource clinics to firms and agencies and achieve reputable clinical outcomes with little or no expenditure. We beg to differ and in this article we explain why law school management of an externship experience is resource intensive and nearly as complicated as an in-house clinic. It may be less expensive, but an externship can never be set and forgotten.We also discuss the peculiarities of specialist externships, since many externship sites are in fact specialist legal practices. In fact, the attraction of an externship is the access it provides for students to participate in a specialised area of law, while overseen by specialist lawyers. We set out in detail the advantages and disadvantages of operating such placements and connect these to the recent Australian Best Practices in clinical legal education. To begin with however, we need to define some terms as they are used in an Australian clinical setting.
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