Elucidation of the Concept of a Law Clinic as a Prerequisite for Developing the Standards for Law Clinics in Europe

Published date01 July 2020
Date01 July 2020
Subject MatterArticles
Elucidation of the Concept of a
Law Clinic as a Prerequisite for
Developing the Standards
for Law Clinics in Europe
Zvonimir Jelinic1 and Adrian Koch2
Teaching law in Europe and many other parts of the world is primarily and traditionally conducted in an
ex-cathedra style of transferring knowledge. The emergence of law clinics and their integration into the
law schools and the general curriculum of law students pose the constant question of what specifically
defines a law clinic in contrast to other programmes. The authors therefore set out to answer the
question of what is essential for a programme to call itself a law clinic as they deem it important for
the further development of specific concepts and on a more general note for the general acceptance
and movement of law clinics. For this, the article investigates the history of law clinics and the initial
motivation of providing social justice as the reason of their formation. With that in mind and their basic
understanding of a clinic as an institution that helps clients with specific problems, the authors take the
position that a “law clinic” must render legal aid to people in need and therefore work with life-client
cases. As the possibility of working on live-client cases with law students is thus defined a prerequisite of
operating a law clinic, this must be checked for feasibility. In the following, the article compares different
European national legal regimes on rendering legal aid and concludes that the proposed work with live-
client cases isn’t only desirable but also viable.
It is always good to remind ourselves of the fact that the history of clinical legal education and law clinics
has its roots in the USA. As pointed out by Wilson, the early history of clinical legal education in the
USA is deeply and inextricably linked to the provision of legal aid for the poor.3 Furthermore, Wilson has
written that during the 1920s, student-directed legal aid societies started to emerge at the prominent law
schools in the States, with the primary aim of providing legal services to those in need, while during the
1960s and later decades, a number of new faculty-based clinics came to life with the task to respond to
1 Faculty of Law Osijek, University of Osijek, Croatia.
2 Faculty of Law Freiburg, Refugee Law Clinic Freiburg, Germany.
3 Richard J. Wilson, Legal Aid and Clinical Legal Education in Europe and the USA: Are they Compatible? In OutsOurcing LegaL
aid in the nOrdic WeLfare states 267, 263–85 (Olaf Halvorsen Rønning & Ole Hammerslev eds., 2018).
Asian Journal of Legal Education
7(2) 127–139, 2020
© 2020 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2322005820912617
Corresponding author:
Zvonimir Jelinic, Faculty of Law Osijek, University of Osijek, Osijek, Croatia.
E-mail: zvonimir.jelinic@pravos.hr

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