Clinical Legal Education and Its Asian Characteristics

AuthorBruce Avery Lasky,Shuvro Prosun Sarker
Date01 January 2018
Published date01 January 2018
Subject MatterEssay
Clinical Legal Education and Its
Asian Characteristics
Bruce Avery Lasky1
Shuvro Prosun Sarker2
This article began with a consideration of the history and an evaluation of CLE in the United States,
and it now moves on to evaluate the characteristics of CLE in Asia. However, using the term ‘Asian
characteristic’ is somewhat amorphous. It can be quite vexing to try to define what is meant by Asia, as
it is a broad continent with many nationalities, religions, ethnicities, languages and cultures. The same
can be said for Asian legal systems, which possess a mixture of common law, civil law, Sharia law and
customary law structures, often with a number of these structures existing within a single nation state.
These legal systems have a multitude of roots and origins, with some dating back centuries and others
having a more recent strong colonialist influence.
The Early Wave of Clinical Legal Education
The history of clinical legal education (CLE) in the United States is more than 100 years old, and the
United States is regarded as the rst country to start such an experiential learning method of law
teaching.3 The Dean of Harvard Law School, Christopher Columbus Langdell, in 1870 started the
case method of law teaching, which replaced the earlier apprenticeship training or study of law as an
abstraction.4 Langdell’s method of teaching resulted in law students ‘study[ing] selected appellate
opinions and distill[ing] from them the evolution of legal principles’. George S. Grossman described
1 Director, B ABSEACLE, Thailand.
2 Researcher, Centre for Regulatory Studies, Governance and Public Policy, WBNUJS, Kolkata, India.
3 See generally Margaret M. Barry, Jon C. Dubin & Peter A. Joy, Clinical Education for This Millennium: The Third Wave
7 CliniCal l. Rev. 1, 5 (2000).
4 George S. Grossman, Clinical Legal Education: History and Diagnosis 26 J. legal eduC. 162, 163 (1973–74). See generally
Jerome Frank, Why Not a Clinical Lawyer-School? 81 u. Pa. l. Rev. 907 (1932–33). However, some scholars, like John Norton
Pomeroy, Professor at the University of New York City (now known as New York University), used a case method of instruction
several years before Langdell introduced this method of instruction at Harvard. However, Langdell was credited as he had
satisfactorily used this method as the Dean of Harvard Law School. See Joel Seligman, The high CiTadel: The influenCe of
haRvaRd law SChool 32–42 (1978); Anthony Chase, The Birth of the Modern Law School 23 am. J. legal hiST. 329, 333 (1979);
RobeRT STevenS, law SChool: legal eduCaTion in ameRiCa fRom The 1850S To The 1980S 3, 52 (1983).
Asian Journal of Legal Education
5(1) 76–87
© 2017 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/2322005817750493
Corresponding author:
Bruce Avery Lasky, Director, BABSEACLE, Thailand.

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