Joint initiatives: Using a pro bono teaching clinic to prepare law students for legal practice and promote community service
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Law students face a number of challenges when entering the legal profession. There is often a disconnect between the theory they are taught in law courses and the realities of legal practice they are faced with when stepping into the ‘real world’. At some universities, this discrepancy is partly addressed by legal skills programs, but there is still a significant leap to make from ‘student’ to ‘early career lawyer’. The legal profession can greatly enhance student employability by supporting pro bono clinic initiatives in universities. Such pro bono activities can effectively engage legal practitioners and universities in a joint effort to assist the local community and provide students with service learning opportunities. This paper contends that not only is clinical experience an invaluable asset to students to enhance learning and to prepare them for practice, but also that a pro bono teaching clinic has the added benefit of developing a sense of social responsibility in students. It focuses on the benefits of service learning in a pro bono teaching clinic with reference to a case study of a successful commercial law teaching clinic established within a university law faculty. It also examines the challenges and considerations inherent in establishing such a clinic within a law school, and suggests solutions for implementing an effective pro bono teaching clinic, thereby enhancing student employability and community engagement.
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