Professor Ann Shalleck - The Theory and Practice of Clinical Pedagogy

Faculty Scholarship Highlight, January 2014

Whatever the causes, there is increasingly little question that legal education in the United States is at a transformative moment-as educators and students alike revisit the age-old question, how can law school best educate students to shape fulfilling and productive careers as lawyers and to contribute to their communities, from the local to the global? But inasmuch as an increasing focus on experiential-and clinical-education has emerged as one of the more visible goals of current reforms, that only begs the question of how to foster challenging and effective forms of legal education that integrate practical, theoretical, empirical, and doctrinal understanding of law and legal practice.

Enter, Ann Shalleck, professor of law and director of the Women and the Law Program at American University Washington College of Law. Together with her co-authors-AUWCL colleague Elliott Millstein and Professor Susan Bryant from the City University of New York School of Law-Shalleck has put together a new book, Transforming the Education of Lawyers: The Theory and Practice of Clinical Pedagogy, due out this April from Carolina Academic Press. As Shalleck explains, the book analyzes and distills the origins and application of clinical education over the last half century, as well as its importance to current work to reshape legal education. Clinical education includes four distinct methodologies-seminar, rounds, supervision, and fieldwork. Although clinical education has traditionally treated these four threads as somewhat unrelated, Transforming the Education of Lawyers demonstrates how, in fact, they reinforce and complement each other-such that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. More to the point, although the book aims to illustrate the transformative potential of clinical education when it comes to the molding of ethical, skilled, and thoughtful practitioners imbued with professional values of justice and service, its ultimate audience may well be broader. After all, as the legal academy increasingly comes to prioritize experiential education for all students, the lessons Shalleck and her co-authors suggest we should derive from the theory and practice of clinical pedagogy may well be lessons that even the most traditional legal educators can take to heart as law school faculties strive to create new ways to help our students thrive as members of the legal profession.