The Legal Clinic
The Legal Clinic is one of the methods of developing legal education in law faculties and schools in various countries worldwide, in all their forms and legal systems, through a combination of legal study in its theoretical form and its practical and professional aspects in its environment.
The legal clinic at BUC aims to achieve several goals, including the following:
- Moving law school out of a theoretical framework to the practical reality by training students on real problems with real clients so that the law faculties’ graduates will be qualified to work with efficiency and professionalism.
- Providing legal support to the poor and marginalized groups by providing legal advice and judicial assistance to achieve justice and the rule of law.
- Spreading the legal culture in society, and devoting the principles of volunteer work among students.
Thus, the legal clinic is an interactive method to possess the knowledge and legal skills needed in professional life. This method differs from the traditional method of legal education; in legal clinic education, students deal with real clients who have real problems by conducting interviews with them and listening to them, then formulating their problems in a legal form, after that they search for a legal solution to these problems and provide legal advice. They also provide legal aid to clients if the nature of the problem calls for it. All this work is done under the supervision of professors who are often lawyers practicing the legal profession.
Participation in the legal clinic leads to knowing the law through practice and application thereof, students also learn how to listen and communicate effectively with clients, witnesses, experts, litigants, the public prosecutors, judges, and all parties of the legal process.
Types of Legal Clinics
There are many types of legal clinics divided according to the criterion adopted:
Types of clinics according to the client:
Real Client Clinics:
It is a clinic in which students deal with real clients who have real legal problems, which entails real representation before courts and investigation authorities.
Where students work on models of problems through simulating clients, where a student plays the role of a client who has a real problem, and his colleagues deal with him as a real client and try to help him by researching the solution of the problem presented.
Types of legal clinics according to the purpose of the clinic:
Legal Clinics to Train Students:
They are clinics that are concerned with the practical training of the students of law schools on the principles of law which they study theoretically, and these clinics often work on unreal clients.
Legal Clinics for Community Service:
These clinics are very interested in serving the community and the surrounding environment by providing help and legal aid to the poor and marginalized groups, so the focus on training students is not among the priorities of these clinics, even if this goal is achieved through the activity of the clinic.
Legal Clinics with Dual Goals:
These clinics aim at two goals. The first is to train students in practical cases through a mixture of theoretical study and its application to its environment. The second is to serve the surrounding community by providing legal advice and judicial assistance to the poor and marginalized groups in society.
Types of legal clinics according to the place of its activity:
Street Law Clinics:
They are located within the residential block of the surrounding community far from the law faculty buildings, where the technical and administrative staff and students move to the legal headquarters, which is mostly located at the center of the surrounding environment. They practice the activities of the legal clinic in this place, with their permanent and continuous association with the law faculty to which they belong.
School of Law Clinics:
They are the clinics that have their headquarters in law schools and meet service seekers in these headquarters.
Moring Clinics (legal convoys):
They are mobile legal clinics where the legal clinic moves with all its members to places that need its services. These legal clinics not only provide legal aid to those who need it but also go with this service to present it to its applicant in his place of residence.
Types of legal clinics according to their specialty:
Legal clinics vary according to the branch of law in which they specialize. There is the Criminal Law Clinic, the Civil Law Clinic, the Administrative Law Clinic, and the Financial Law Clinic.
The Legal Clinic as an Educational Course in the Curriculum of Law Faculties:
To perform the tasks assigned to a legal clinic and achieve its goals, it must be part of the academic curriculum in law faculties. Legal clinics, especially in developing countries, face strong challenges while incorporating them within the curriculum of law faculties.
Even with the inclusion of the legal clinic within the curriculum of the Faculty of Law, it is necessary to amend these curriculums to fit this project, as well as the necessity of providing legal clinical education materials.
The School of Law at BUC did that through the inclusion of the legal clinic course within the courses of the fourth year.
The Impact of the Legal Clinic on the Relevant Parties:
The legal clinic has a positive impact on all parties dealing with it, as it affects the student by providing practical experiences and professional knowledge during the study period, and qualifies the student to join work upon graduation.
The legal clinic also affects its faculty members, as it motivates constant search and continuous endeavor to provide a practical and professional experience.
The legal clinic also affects the surrounding community by providing legal advice and judicial assistance to the poor and marginalized groups in society, which supports and strengthens the idea of justice in society.
This is in addition to the important role that the legal clinic plays in spreading legal culture and awareness, and legal literacy.
Legal Clinics’ Relationship with the Bar Association:
The relationship between the Bar Association and the legal clinic is a cooperative and not a competitive one because legal clinics target the poor and marginalized groups and they do not own lawyers’ fees or judicial expenses.
Hence, legal clinics, including the free voluntary work they perform for poor groups, do not compete with lawyers in anything.
The Legal Clinic and Civil Society Organizations:
Civil society organizations are a group of organizations and associations that have a clear legal personality recognized by society, such as civil societies, professional unions, and youth centers; which are voluntary organizations that fill the public sphere between the family and the state to achieve the interests of their members, committed to the values and standards of respect and tolerance.
These associations can play an important role in the success of the legal clinic project, by playing the role of mediator between the legal clinic and the poor and marginalized groups.
Civil society organizations, with their direct relationship with citizens, and through their knowledge of the conditions and capabilities of individuals residing in the surrounding environment, can direct poor cases that need legal aid to the legal clinic.
Conditions and Procedures for Establishing a Legal Clinic:
To establish a legal clinic, a set of elements and components are required, as follows:
These components are represented in the place where the legal clinic will start its work at the Faculty of Law, which must be appropriate for this purpose in terms of location, space, and equipment, such as furniture, gear, devices, and machines.
It includes the working team of the legal clinic, which consists of an administrative body that includes several employees with experience in this field, as well as a technical body of law faculty professors with experience in the field of legal clinical education, to take over the leadership of the legal clinic including its executive director, and the academic supervisors. The legal clinic also needs one or more service workers.
The legal clinic needs funds to be able to carry out its activities, and this fund comes mostly from abroad through the institutions interested in financing legal clinic projects, especially when these projects are at their inception. The budget of the legal clinic has to be part of the faculty budget in which it originates.
A legal clinic is an independent unit of a special nature at the institution where it is located. Therefore, these clinics must be officially established by obtaining the necessary approvals from the university administration.
The Administrative Structure
The administrative structure of the legal clinic consists of:
- General Supervisor (Dean of the faculty)
- Clinic Director (selected by the faculty dean among the teaching staff)
- Executive Director (selected from among the staff assistants by a decision of the faculty dean).
- Academic supervisors who are staff members
- Administrative and Finance
- The clinic’s work team, which includes 20 male and female students, who are chosen from among the distinguished students who pass the special training program.
Mechanisms of Work
- Presenting the problem
- Assigning 4 students to investigate it and identify the legal points related to it according to the preliminary advice from the academic supervisor.
- Students submit a report on the case study to the academic supervisor
- The academic supervisor submits a report on the study explaining the negative aspects if any, and how to complete the investigation.
- A final report on legal solutions is prepared and presented in a plenary meeting for the clinic’s students for discussion and approval.
- The problem file shall be deposited in the clinic’s archive, according to the system approval.
Studying Real Cases
- Interviewing the client and listening to his problem and demands by the acknowledgment of 2 students (male and female) in the clinic room.
- Each case shall be recorded with a code number to ensure confidentiality.
- Preparing a report on the problem according to the form approved in the clinic.
- The report is presented to the academic supervisor for examination and notes.
- Inform the party concerned with the legal opinion.
- The clinic can do judicial support if it is needed.