n South African Law Journal - Defining the role of the university law clinician

Volume 130, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



University law clinicians must be distinguished from attorneys or advocates practising at other law clinics or legal aid centres. In defining the role of the university law clinician, a number of factors are considered. The view across a number of jurisdictions is that the main focus of a university law clinic should be the globally-recognised methodology of clinical legal education; that is, the teaching of students by the clinicians and not the provision of free legal services to clients. A university law clinician is unique in that he or she is both attorney and academic teacher and often appears to be marginalised by both the practice and academia. As an attorney, the clinician must subscribe to the rules of the Law Society and train candidate attorneys. As an academic, the clinician must adhere to the directions of academia, such as teaching, research and publication. The essence of the clinician cannot be captured by the terms 'clinical lawyer' and 'law teacher'. The university law clinic is regarded as a significant teaching tool by which educational value is imparted to students. The university law clinician is an attorney who facilitates the imparting of practical and ancillary skills to the students by way of an academic clinical methodology.

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