Capitalising on Clinical Legal Education: Insights from Bourdieu

Gilbert, Andrew (2021). Capitalising on Clinical Legal Education: Insights from Bourdieu. In: Madhloom, Omar and Mcfaul, Hugh eds. Thinking About Clinical Legal Education. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 49–68.

URL: https://www.routledge.com/Thinking-About-Clinical-...

Abstract

We already expect a lot from clinical legal education (CLE). It provides access to justice, trains students in lawyering skills and knowledge of the law in action, raises the profile of universities in their communities, builds links between law schools and legal professionals, serves as a useful marketing tool to attract new students, and so on. This chapter draws on insights from the work of sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, to consider a further addition to the list: CLE as an engine of social justice and mobility for student participants through the development of their social and cultural capital. The discussion starts by exploring the aims and claims of CLE, contending that there is scope for its social justice remit to be widened to include the students’ educational experience as a site for increasing their ability to compete for graduate work. It goes on to introduce the key concepts in Bourdieu’s work of field, habitus and capital, before surveying aspects of the literature on CLE and employability. Finally, Bourdieu’s ideas are deployed to argue for a broader understanding of CLE’s role in enhancing employability to promote social justice and social mobility, yet doubts remain over the magnitude of CLE’s transformative potential, which can only be resolved through further research.

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