Law & Entrepreneurship in Global Clinical Education


  • Janet Thompson Jackson Washburn University School of Law
  • Susan R. Jones George Washington University Law School



As clinical legal education (CLE) continues to evolve and prepare practice-ready lawyers, and governments worldwide focus on the multilayered impact of technology, automation and artificial intelligence, there is a pressing need to examine law and entrepreneurship through the lens of global clinical legal education.  The range of issues include: corporate social responsibility, disruptive technologies, microbusiness, social entrepreneurship, social impact investing, the creative economy, sustainable local economies, cooperatives and shared work, and inclusive entrepreneurship.Indeed, new legal entities like benefit corporations and low profit limited liability companies (L3Cs) have emerged to address contemporary legal needs and in the United States, the notion of an entrepreneurial mindset is prominent. Many of today’s law students are Millennial generation, ages 18-34, while others are digital natives who have not known a world without technology.Business law clinics (BLCs), also referred to as transactional clinics,  representing for profit, nonprofit or nongovernmental (NGOs) organizations and social enterprises aim to support the growth of entrepreneurial ecosystems while promoting social and economic justice.  BLCs teach law students substantive law, practical skills and professional values.  Indeed, BLCs with a social and economic justice perspective can help law students, the next generation of leaders, to develop critical analytic skills and insights into how entrepreneurship supports and sometimes hurts human rights and civil society efforts.Part one of this article examines the evolution of global CLE in western countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and in Georgia and Croatia.  Part two discusses a more recent phenomenon in CLE, the emergence of BLCs, which expand the clinical experience beyond the courtroom to the boardroom, and the differences and similarities between litigation and transactional legal clinics. Part three examines the rise in BLCs globally, and contains case studies of the global experience in transactional CLE with perspectives from Georgia, Croatia, Australia, Canada and the U.K.  Part four considers the unique pedagogical and programmatic aspects of BLCs, such as redefining “practice-ready,” teaching Millennials, and collaboration as a lawyering skill.  Part five reflects on the significance of BLCs now.  In Part six the article concludes by looking to the future of BLCs in a global context.  The article also includes an Appendix 1 with BLC Lawyering Competencies and Learning Outcomes and Appendix 2 with a Checklist for Starting or Re-Imagining a BLC.






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