Enhancing Legal Aid through University law student engagement: a case study of the EBSU Law Clinic model

Cosmos Nike Nwedu

Abstract


The provision of legal aid to underprivileged and vulnerable citizens who could not have ordinarily been able to provide for self legal representation and access to the court system is infrequent in many societies today, especially in most developing countries. There is also an observed non-inclusiveness in the delivery of legal aid. These have starkly resulted to a gap that impacts administration of justice negatively. However, the emergence of clinical legal education (CLE) at different law schools and universities around the world becomes a remedial approach both to increasing the consistency and breadth of legal aid activities, including promoting inclusiveness. CLE is gradually assuming a great height of unprecedented importance and progress in academic curriculum globally. Many universities and law schools have begun to incorporate law clinics into their educational curriculum not just as an essentially approved aspect of their legal education or a novel course of study that involves different pragmatic approaches of engaging law students on learning, but also as a practical mechanism for providing unmatched pedagogy that focuses on diverse lawyering skills successively maximized in providing free legal services to those citizens whose survival depends on the public mercy. This paper discusses how the engagement of university law students from CLE perspective helps to enhance the provision of legal aid to underprivileged and defenseless citizens. Consequently, Ebonyi State University (EBSU) Law Clinic model is used for a methodological case study analysis to that effect. EBSU is a State University in Nigeria and has effectively run its Law Clinic since inception till date, combining both empirical and theoretical approaches in providing pro bono oriented legal services to unprotected Nigerians. The paper further examines the modus operandi of the EBSU Law Clinic and highlights significant reasons why the Clinic stands to be a reference practice model.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19164/ijcle.v24i3.669

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ISSN 1467-1069
ESSN 2056-3930