UKCLE closed on 31 July 2011. This is an archive site.

What is clinical legal education?

Clinical legal education (CLE) has been a significant part of legal education since the 1960s, when it became a mainstream endeavour in US law schools. The first UK clinics emerged in the 1970s, although the British (and Australian) clinical movements have expanded significantly in the 1990s. With support from initiatives such as the
Open Society Justice Initiative and organisations such as GAJE (the Global Alliance for Justice Education) clinical legal education is also expanding across eastern Europe, Africa and South America.

CLE nonetheless remains something of a contested concept. At its broadest, the term has been used to encompass learning which is:

experiential in design focused on enabling students to understand how the law works in action by undertaking real, or realistically simulated, casework

Some purists prefer to use the term clinic to describe only ‘live client’ work, but even this comes in various guises.

Last Modified: 4 June 2010