2 August 2017 | King’s Legal Clinic
The International Journal of Clinical Legal Education (IJCLE) Conference 2017 took place in Newcastle, Monday 3 July to Wednesday 5 July. The conference was a chance for clinicians, from the UK and overseas, to come together and explore the multifaceted role clinicians undertake and how they overcome competing priorities. Much like the role of a clinician, the conference allowed discussion to take place in many forms; from presentations of soon-to-be-published papers to sessions with more interactive elements.
One of the standout sessions for me was delivered by Donald Nicholson, Fergus Lawrie (University of Strathclyde), JoNel Newman and Melissa Swain (University of Miami). A clinical exchange program between the two universities developed the use of forum theatre to teach skills, values and ethics to law students.
The idea involves illustrating a mocked-up version of a client interview showing a poorly conducted interview. The mocked-up interview is then repeated but this time, the students can interject when they think bad practice is exhibited by the lawyer and literally step into the lawyer’s shoes to show how they would deal with the situation better. Even the student who steps in for the lawyer can be stopped and replaced by another student if they believe that there is still bad practice taking place. Those playing the client and the lawyer are surrounded by the students and another participant, known as the joker, helps to facilitate discussion about what constitutes bad or good practice.
I really thought this was a great way of engaging students about the ethical issues that can arise when interviewing clients, whether in a legal clinic or once you begin practising as a lawyer.
A key purpose of clinical education is to provide students with hands-on experience of how law operates in practice. There were two other great initiatives presented at the conference that typified this aim. Anne Kotonya from Strathmore Law School in Nairobi, Kenya gave a talk about a compulsory module undertaken by all law students in Kenya called the ‘Judicial Attachment Programme’ where students are paired up with a magistrate over a period of six weeks. Students get the opportunity to see cases operating from the claim being initially received to the final judgment being delivered.
The IJCLE conference 2017 gave me a great insight into the work and impact of clinical education in the UK and abroad.
By Deborah Acquaah | Legal Clinic Coordinator