The Law in the Community Model of Clinical Legal Education: Assessing the Impact on Key Stakeholders


  • Lyndsey Bengtsson Northumbria University
  • Bethany A'Court Northumbria University



This article examines a model of clinical legal education where a university law school works in partnership with an external organisation. The partnership enables law students to attend the offices of Citizens Advice during their law degree and under the guidance and supervision of their staff, advise their service users on a range of legal issues. Using data collected from a research study involving student focus groups and semi structured interviews with the Citizens Advice supervisors, this research contributes to the understanding of whether, and how, this model impacts upon law students, Citizens Advice and the local community. This study contributes to the knowledge on the value of this model of clinical legal education from both a pedagogical and social justice perspective. The research raises questions as to how a partnership between a university and external organisation can overcome challenges, ensuring an equivalent clinical experience for all students and that effective feedback is provided to students. The results indicate that there are a clear set of pedagogical benefits to the students and benefits to Citizens Advice with regards to the service they can provide to the local community. The authors argue that this module enables students to engage in transformative and impactful work, whilst obtaining first-hand experience of the access to justice challenges (and other socio-economic issues) faced by their local community. The study will be of interest to clinics who incorporate, or intend to incorporate, an externship model in their curriculum, both in Europe and beyond.






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