Integrating Two Measures of Quality Practice into Clinical and Practical Legal Education Assessment: Good client interviewing and effective community legal education
This paper will examine, through two case studies (an undergraduate clinical program and a Practical Legal Education (PLE) advice clinic) the scope for indicators developed by Curran to assess the outcomes, effectiveness and quality of legal assistance service in Australia to be used in clinical assessment. This article will explore how two particular indicators evaluated as fundamental in that research might be utilised to assess students so as to enhance the quality of their clinical participation.
Clinical Legal Education is seen by its adherents as ‘a premier method of learning and teaching. Its intensive, one-on-one or small group nature can allow students to apply legal theory and develop their lawyering skills to solve client legal problems. Its teaching pedagogy is distinguished by a system of self-critique and supervisory feedback enabling law students to learn how to learn from their experiences’. In many senses it is a form of experiential learning through engagement with the practice of law.It aims to contextualise the study of law and draw on student learning in other courses to guide and support them in identifying, developing and applying ethical legal practice skills. But its scope is much wider than simply ‘skills’, it also aims to develop students’ critical understanding of approaches to legal practice, to their understanding of the roles of lawyers in relation to individual clients and social justice issues and to encourage and as a means to validate student aspirations to promote access to justice and equality through the law.
We suggest ways to assess the quality of such engagement by clinical students, focusing on Curran’s core quality measures of ‘a good client interview’ and ‘quality community legal education’. The value of utilising these two indicators to assess the quality of student engagement is that they themselves are core to the activities in which students are involved in clinic.