Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2017

Disciplines

Civil Rights and Discrimination | Law | Law and Economics | Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Abstract

The economic, political, and social volatility of the sixties and seventies, out of which clinical legal education was born, has certain mythical qualities for most law students, and perhaps some law professors. America still bears the scars of the economic policies of those previous eras, such as redlining, blockbusting, poverty and urban decay. While the realities of the era may seem out of reach for many of our students, those arising out of that era have contributed to the wealth gap in this country, which has worsened over the last twenty years. Now more than ever, society needs social justice lawyers, not just practice-ready lawyers, and, in particular, not just litigators. Despite this need, transactional clinical pedagogy prioritizes the practice-readiness of students. While an important concern, prioritizing student practice-readiness seems misguided at best and fails our students at worst. The scarcity of legal services and the question of whether for-profit clients, such as entrepreneurs and microentrepreneurs, are truly underserved populations further exacerbate the tension and effects of omitting social and economic justice teaching in favor of practice-readiness. Because there are many people without access to legal services or involved in the criminal justice system without an attorney, it is hard to justify resources being allocated to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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