Preparing students for 21st century practice: enhancing social justice teaching in clinical legal education

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Social justice has always played an important role in clinical legal education (CLE). Clinicians are aware that students need to acquire the necessary legal skills and strategies related to client-centred lawyering, process choice and procedural justice. This paper shows that increasingly, despite clinicians’ recognition of the value of teaching social justice in CLE, those who promote it face various challenges in instilling in students the notion that social justice is important. This paper discusses some of these challenges, including, that as experiential education expands, students are being offered clinical placements in the private sector where clients do not face the barriers in accessing justice similar to those in community settings. It therefore becomes imperative to encourage students to retain the notion that social justice is an important value. This paper makes suggestions for how these challenges can be overcome to enhance students’ awareness of the importance of social justice and ensure that it remains a value they retain as 21st century practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-67
Number of pages63
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Legal Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2021


  • clinical legal education
  • social justice

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