Beyond Legal Imperialism: U.S. Clinical Legal Education and the New Law and Development
Clinical legal education adopted by law schools outside of the United States—as pedagogical method, as academic structure, indeed, as concept itself—is largely an export from the United States, wherein lie its roots. Clinical programs arose from social and protest movements of the 1960s and ‘70s. During that time, law school clinics received an enormous boost from the Ford Foundation-funded Council on Legal Education and Professional Responsibility (CLEPR), which served to spread the gospel and deepen the presence of clinics in US law schools. The first law and development movement came into being in parallel with the growth of clinics in the United States during those decades. The movement exported US legal education models and methods to other countries, and eventually fell prey to a devastating critique that brought it to a screeching halt, including some argue appropriately, all legal education innovations exported from the United States. This chapter attempts to determine the salience of this critique today, particularly as legal imperialism might be strongly associated with legal education methods in the United States. The author concludes that the exportation of clinical legal education cannot today be called legal imperialism and further argues that this critique is as much a function of American hubris as it is real. He next examines legal imperialism through typology, and explores the historical context of the contention. He finally examines the central premises of the legal imperialism critique as it relates to both the sweeping forced assimilation of entire legal cultures, and the narrow issue of clinical legal education.
Global clinical legal education, Legal imperialism, Clinical imperialism, Social justice advocacy, Rule of law, Law development
Law | Other Law
Wilson, Richard J. “Beyond Legal Imperialism: U.S. Clinical Legal Education and the New Law and Development.” In The Global Clinical Movement: Educating Lawyers for Social Justice, edited by Frank S. Bloch, 135-150. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.