This research project addresses access to justice and ethical issues associated with Clinical Legal Education at a time of international crisis and change.
Clinical Legal Education (CLE) involves law students undertaking experiential and practice-led activities within the community – including participation in student advice clinics, justice initiatives and law reform activism. Students learn through experience and practical engagement in real-world legal activities. They observe the law in action and have the opportunity to work with individuals that are often ill-served by the justice frameworks in this country. By getting involved in CLE projects, students participate in their community and develop key skills that should help them in their future careers.
CLE serves a range of important social functions beyond the offer of valuable student learning and experience. Indeed, contemporary law school arrangements and promotional material often go out of their way to emphasise the benefits for community users of these services. Student activity may help satisfy an unmet legal need for vulnerable individuals and marginalised communities within the general population. As such, CLE may serve a valuable role in securing access to justice for specific sections of the population.
In this project, we are seeking to address the following questions. First, to get a clearer sense of the specific areas and patterns of unmet legal need in the Bath and Northeast Somerset (BANES) region. Secondly, to identify preferred sources and mechanisms of legal information and advice following the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirdly, to identify user preferences and perspectives relating to CLE. The answers to these questions will help shape the development of the legal clinic modules at Bath Spa University and offer a framework for developing appropriate services for key stakeholders. We also hope to establish the appropriate boundaries for student learning, activism and social justice engagement and develop a clearer sense of the role that law students might play as agents of social change.
Clinical Legal Education offers students contextual and reflective legal learning that is valuable to their personal and professional development, and which enables them to participate more directly in the communities in which they live.Dr Jeffrey Wale, Bath Spa University
The project team will be working with the Bath Law Clinic and individuals in the BANES region that have sought or may be seeking advice from the voluntary (non-profit) sector about a legal problem or dispute. This project directly aligns with key areas of research interest identified by the Ministry of Justice in December 2020. The project team aim to publish their findings and to hold a public knowledge exchange event in spring 2022.
Linked Bath Spa University programmes
- Level 6 Law Clinic LAW6020-40
- Level 7 Legal Clinic LAW7109-60