Holding Up the Mirror: A theoretical and practical analysis of the role of reflection in Clinical Legal Education


  • Rachel Spencer University of South Australia Business School




This article provides a summary of the broader literature on reflection that has been published over the last twenty years in a variety of disciplines. It then examines the literature from two major clinical legal education journals in relation to reflective writing as a component of clinical legal education courses. It attempts to provide answers to the questions: What do we mean when we say we ‘teach’ students to be ‘reflective’? How do we do that? How do we ‘teach’ students to write reflectively? The article looks at the problems we face in teaching ‘reflection’ in the clinical context and examines issues stemming from the reality of reflection being an important part of a clinical program. It also argues that being ‘reflective’ is not necessarily intuitive for students and that clinical teachers must teach students how to ‘be reflective’. The article demonstrates an example of reflection in action by the provision of examples from the writer’s own teaching experiences. Finally, the article collates and reproduces suggestions from the literature on best teaching practice on the use of reflection as a teaching and learning tool within clinical legal education courses.