Taking Clinical Legal Education Online: Songs of Innocence and Experience

McFaul, Hugh; Hardie, Liz; Ryan, Francine; Lloyd Bright, Keren and Graffin, Neil (2020). Taking Clinical Legal Education Online: Songs of Innocence and Experience. International Journal of Clinical Legal Education, 27(4) pp. 6–38.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.19164/ijcle.v27i4.1052


In common with the wider higher education sector, clinical legal education practitioners are facing the challenge of how to adapt their teaching practices to accommodate the restrictions imposed by governmental responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. Facilitating distance learning via online technologies has unsurprisingly become an area of increasing interest in the hope that it may offer a potential solution to the problem of how to continue teaching undergraduates in a socially distanced environment.

This paper seeks to provide clinical legal education practitioners with evidence-based insights into the challenges and opportunities afforded by using digital technologies to deliver clinical legal education. It adopts a case study approach by reflecting on the Open Justice Centre’s four-year experience of experimenting with online technologies to provide meaningful and socially useful legal pro bono projects for students studying a credit bearing undergraduate law module. It will analyse how a number of different types of pro bono activity were translated into an online environment, identify common obstacles and posit possible solutions. In doing so, this paper aims to provide a timely contribution to the literature on clinical legal education and offer a means to support colleagues in law schools in the UK and internationally, who are grappling with the challenges presented by taking clinical legal education online.

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