Lean Thinking in a UK University Law Clinic: A Reflective Case Study

Alex Nicholson, Alireza Pakgohar


A law clinic typically involves staff and students in a range of complex processes that are highly resource-intensive and which have the potential to detract from core value-adding activities. This paper aims to highlight the challenges associated with resourcing a university law clinic, and evaluate the extent to which lean management is able to provide solutions. It is submitted that proactive and deliberate application of lean management philosophies to law clinic process design has the potential to both reduce resource intensity and enhance value. A literature review was conducted in order to identify lean management principles and methodologies that might be applicable. A case study approach was then used to evaluate key resourcing challenges faced by a UK university law clinic and to explore the extent to which lean thinking might help to overcome them. There is very little literature which discusses the application of lean thinking in the higher education sector, and none which considers the university law clinic context specifically. This paper will provide law school leaders with a resource that will enable them to evaluate and design their clinic processes more effectively, improving the wellbeing of clinic staff and enhancing the pedagogical value of clinic work for students. It will also contribute to the emerging body of literature which highlights the benefits of lean thinking within the higher education sector.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19164/ijcle.v27i1.816

Copyright (c) 2020 Alex Nicholson, Alireza Pakgohar

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