Office for Learning and Teaching Project 2013

Strengthening Australian legal education by integrating clinical experiences: identifying and supporting effective practices

The clinical experience for law students is an invaluable part of any law degree. Clinical Legal Education operates in a similar way to hospital placements that are offered to medicine students, by providing a dynamic environment where law students can combine theory with practice. The clinical experience places the law in its sharpest context, by challenging students with real clients and real legal issues. For most, it is the first time they can actively engage with the way in which legal principles operate in the community, and observe the role of law in both facilitating and prohibiting the administration of social justice. 

Of the 29 law schools in Australia, 20 provide a clinical legal education to students in one way or another. Each clinical program is unique and the various legal issues dealt with in these clinics range from generalist legal practice, right through to specialist areas such as: environmental law; sexual assault compensation; human rights; refugee and immigration law; and anti-terrorism criminal defence. Each clinic is not only an asset to the community, but a forum through which Australia’s law students can strengthen their practical legal education.

The Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) project (previously known as the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Ltd or ALTC project) is a  federally-funded project, led by Professor Adrian Evans of Monash University.

Along with partner institutions from across Australia, the project aims to develop a set of standards for effective clinical legal education, and to assist in the renewal of University law curricula in Australia.

The project will investigate current practices in clinical programs with the aim to explore the different approaches to clinical learning and effective practice.

The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office for Learning and Teaching.