Does the Practice of Counseling Students out of Clinic make a Statement about the place of Clinical Education in the Academy?

I think it does.

In my experience, it is unusual for a professor or dean to encourage a student to forego taking or to drop a so-called stand up or doctrinal class, particularly if it’s required. The opposite situation prevails in clinics, which presently are rarely required; in these classes, the pressure to maintain in clinic a student having grave difficulties is substantially reduced for both student and teacher. That clinics are rarely required means, of course, that they are largely relegated to “elective” status and thereby on a lower hierarchical plane than other, required doctrinal courses. This fact conspires to permit us, professors teaching these clinical courses, to fall prey to viewing them as “less-than” the classes taught along the Langdellian model.

What might be the implications of this observation? At least it would seem that we clinical professors could try to appreciate the significance of what we do and of what we’re imparting in our students. This appreciation will encourage us to encourage our students not to give up if and when “the going gets tough” in the course of handling difficult cases and challenging clients. In addition, this observation can serve as another call, heard frequently these days if not at law faculty meetings at least in the mainstream press, that clinical education be part of the required law school curriculum.

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