ERG SES H 02, Vocational Education and Training
This paper discusses part of my PhD research, which focuses on live client clinics and clinical legal education in Europe. My research aim for my literature review was to find all the literature available to me regarding clinical legal education and the knowledge, skills and attributes it can provide students with and analyse it. To do this I conducted a systematic review, searching various databases, using keywords and other searching techniques, to locate both qualitative, quantitative and conceptual research. A systematic review in this area has not been done previously. It has allowed me to bring together all the literature surrounding which knowledge, skills and attributes are necessary for the practice of law and how law schools have been working to meet these demands. Whilst my empirical research has been conducted within law schools in Europe, I wanted to look at the literature from a global perspective. Much influence to clinical legal education has come from US, Australia, UK and Canada and I thought it necessary to include these perspectives.
The systematic review did not only look at peer reviewed journals for data. The grey literature, which was mainly comprised of legal education reports from the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, was also sourced and analysed, bringing in another global perspective. Looking at this literature has enabled me to acknowledge what knowledge, skills and attributes legal education and practice regulators wish our students to graduate with and what is expected of legal educators. By comparing this with the peer reviewed literature found I have could analyse what it is that legal regulators want and how we, as legal educators, are responding. Are we meeting the demands laid down in policy? Is it even possible to meet these demands in a swiftly changing legal and economic climate?
By exploring the literature in this way, I could see the connections between what regulators want (grey literature) with how law schools have responded (qualitative, quantitative and conceptual literature). Law schools today use a variety of teaching methods, both experiential and not, to help better prepare our students for practice. However, these innovations seem to not be enough, and reports are continuously calling for law schools to further close the academic and practice divide. By tracking how law schools have responded to the demands of a changing legal world, I explore whether regulators and those with a vested interest in legal education are simply asking too much.
The epistemological framework which guided this research was mixed. When I was searching the literature I was very much using a positivist approach, following a strict methodology and deducing the results, moving from the general to specific reasoning. However, when I was synthesising and analysing the data I changed to a more interpretivist framework, exploring the literature, becoming more inductive, and moving from the specific to more general and broader theories.
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