Lawyering Skills 2.0: Specific Pedagogical Approaches for Emergent, Non-Litigation Lawyering Practices

Document Type


Publication Date


Conference / Event Title

Association of American Law Schools (AALS) 2013 Conference on Clinical Legal Education - The Value of Variety: Opportunities, Implications and Challenges of Diversification in Clinical Programs

Conference / Event Location

San Juan, Puerto Rico


As originally conceived, clinical legal education operated primarily within the context of litigation, social justice lawyering, and live-client in-house clinics. Over the years, diverse models of clinical education have emerged: non-litigation clinics such as transactional clinics, mediation clinics, and legislative policy clinics; externship programs; hybrid clinics that combine aspects of direct representation and externship placement; and the expansion of clinical education in countries around the globe. In many respects, the pedagogies of these diverse models have been developing outside the mainstream of clinical legal education through forums such as distinct conferences dedicated to transactional clinics, externships, or global justice issues. This conference seeks to bring the pedagogies from these diverse models of clinical legal education to center stage, examining the methods and assumptions of non-litigation, externship, hybrid, and international clinic models and engaging questions about how these pedagogies can or should inform earlier understandings of clinical education, lawyering skills, and social justice work.

An exploration of the diversification of clinical legal education compels a focus on the divergent approaches adopted by both clinical faculty and law school administrations. A predominant mode of clinical education involves teaching the professional skills of interviewing, fact investigation, counseling, and negotiation within a framework that assumes litigation as a backdrop. The rise of non-litigation clinics, however, has led to pedagogies of lawyering skills organized around the different objectives, methods and competencies of non-litigation work. Moreover, the role of clinicians in assisting law schools to develop lawyering skills training across the curriculum challenges the model of social justice lawyering that has shaped the growth and development of traditional clinical legal education, re-framing questions about the trade-offs between teaching skills and advancing the social justice mission of clinics.

The in-house, live-client clinic has been the preeminent model for American clinical education. Yet, externships have existed at least as long as clinics and form the core of many experiential programs in the United States and abroad. Supervised work in outside practices dominates training in other professions such as medicine, education, social work, and ministry. The need to provide more practical skills training to more law students has pushed law schools to expand the reach of clinical education beyond the limited slots available through in-house clinics taught solely or primarily by in-house clinical faculty. Law schools have responded to these realities by expanding the range and variety of externship program designs, by developing hybrid models that divide client work, student supervision and classroom teaching between in-house clinicians and adjuncts, and by creating new courses that utilize aspects of externships (e.g. court observation or shadowing) together with more traditional approaches. These diverse models break down some of the traditional distinctions between in-house clinics and externships, prompt both questions and creative dialogue through the contrast of clinical pedagogies.

With the diversification of models of clinical legal education come not just opportunities, but also challenges, critiques, and controversies. This conference will provide space to explore the pedagogies of these diverse models as well as the underlying challenges inherent in the expansion of the goals and limits of clinical education. To highlight these points, the conference will consider the possibilities for cross-fertilization from different pedagogical models.

Each day of the conference will feature a single plenary session addressing the diverse pedagogies of clinical education and one or two concurrent sessions. Working groups will meet four times during the conference. To address conference themes of diversification and cross-fertilization, while also allowing clinicians to meet in affinity groups, the first two working group sessions will feature mixed subject-matter groups and the second two sessions will feature affinity groups organized by subject matter.