Book review: Thinking about Clinical Legal Education: Philosophical and Theoretical Perspectives. Edited by Omar Madhloom and Hugh McFaul

AuthorLaura Bradley
Published date01 January 2023
Date01 January 2023
Subject MatterBook Reviews
114 Book Reviews
From this perspective, the book indeed has the potential to generate the research aptitude and research
awareness for socio-legal researchers, law school researchers and postgraduates. On the whole, the book is a
welcome addition to the existing literature on research methodology.
Naveen Sharma
Advocate, Delhi High Court, New Delhi, India
Thinking about Clinical Legal Education: Philosophical and Theoretical Perspectives. Edited by Omar Madhloom
and Hugh McFaul, Routledge, London, 2021. pp. 284 (Hardback), £100.00 ISBN 9780367273491,
(eBook), £29.59 ISBN 9780429299247.
This journal has recently published an article written by one of the editors of this collection, the title of
which is ‘Does Clinical Legal Education Need Theory?’1 McFaul argues that an increased interest in
Clinical Legal Education (CLE) has prompted the production of a body of literature on the application
of clinical principles to a variety of areas of legal practice across a wide range of jurisdictions. However,
there appears to be scant attention paid to the theoretical dimensions of this approach. In this edited
collection the editors address the question posed by McFaul by bringing together academics and
practitioners, from various jurisdictions, to explore the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of
their clinical practice. As such it is not simply a book about normative ethics, but rather a collection of
essays aimed at developing reection in legal education, CLE, and professional practice.
The book is divided into fifteen chapters, and while these are not arranged into specific topics, all the
chapters share a common theme throughout the book which is the development of reflective legal
practitioners (e.g., Chapters 1, 2 and 12). The editors bring together authors from different jurisdictions
such as Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Israel, Spain, the UK and the US. I was heartened to see that the list of
contributors included not only eminent academics such Sarah Buhler and Scott L. Cummings, but also a
chapter by a Ph.D. student (Chapter 11). This review will not provide a summary of all the chapters.
Instead, it will outline the overall theme of the book and the relevance to CLE.
While not strictly anti-legal positivism (Chapters 5, 9 and 10), the book promotes a holistic approach
to legal education and practice by incorporating a variety of approaches such as place-based education
(Chapter 1), therapeutic jurisprudence (Chapter 2), a capabilities approach (Chapter 7) and human rights
education (Chapters 11 and 12). As such, this collection achieves three aims. First, it demonstrates the
value of philosophy and theory in CLE. Second, it makes a strong case for the role of CLE in bridging
the conceptual theory-practice divide. Third, it demonstrates that CLE does not seem to be wedded to a
single theory but is a vehicle for developing reflective lawyers through a variety of approaches.
Although CLE tends to be synonymous with social justice education, not all academics and clinic
supervisors subscribe to the idea that CLE’s main objective is social justice. However, there is an interesting
chapter exploring the value of Rawls’ theory of justice and how this can develop reflection on the distribution
of resources to fund law clinics and legal aid in the Republic of Croatia (Chapter 6). Those who supervise
1 Hugh McFaul, Does Clinical Legal Education Need Theory? 7(2) ASIAN J. LEG. EDUC. 152–63 (2020).

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