An Examination of the Challenges, Successes and Setbacks for Clinical Legal Education in Eastern Europe
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The authors first met in 2000, and have collaborated in conferences, workshops, and other projects since then. We also represent two sides of an international exchange that has frequently occurred in the past 15 years: a European law teacher who attends training sessions, networks with colleagues from other European universities, learns about American models of clinical education, and possibly receives some outside funding; and an American law teacher who is graciously hosted by Europeans, promotes American models of clinical education, and, one hopes, observes, listens and learns about the European system. We are also experienced teachers within our own universities and teach both clinics and more doctrinal courses. Finally we are friends and can be honest with each other.
After more than 10 years of working together, we wanted to take stock of the collaboration between American and European academics on issues of clinical education. We wanted to take a close look at what has happened in Central and Eastern Europe since the first "American invasion" of U.S. consultants and funding: what clinical programs were developed? Which ones survived after the consultants and funding left? Why did some programs survive and prosper, while others disappeared? What do the surviving models look like?
We also wanted to ask a series of more subjective and potentially sensitive questions: was the American influence ultimately helpful and productive? To the extent that it was not helpful, what have we learned about improving such cross-cultural international collaborations in the future? Have European law schools copied US models of clinical legal education, or have they developed their own models?
In the following sections we first discuss the history of clinical legal education in Central and Eastern Europe. We then focus on Croatia and Olomouc, Czech Republic, two examples of the ambitious but uneven development of clinical programs in Central and Eastern Europe. We next examine the experiences of clinical programs in countries of CEE and some of the challenges these programs have faced in achieving sustainability. We then use a comparison between the European and U.S. clinical program models as a lens for analyzing the experiences of the European programs and assessing the value of collaboration between European and U.S. clinical teachers. Finally, we offer some thoughts about the future of clinical legal education in Central and Eastern Europe.