Teaching Ethics Through Clinical Self-Reflection

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Long title: 
Teaching Legal Ethics and Professionalism through Clinical Self-Reflection
Author(s): 
Newman, JoNel, Swain, Melissa and Nicholson, Donald
Author(s)' contact information: 
University of Miami, USA University of Strathclyde, UK
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location: 
City University London
Country: 
UK
Year: 
2014

For some time now, ethical and professional educators have drawn on philosophy, psychology and educational theory to argue that one of, if not the most, effective means of teaching legal ethics is through immersion in and reflection on, ethical dilemmas arising out of real-life legal experiences in live-client law clinics. Unfortunately, empirical evidence supporting this theoretical position has thus far been elusive.
This panel will provide evidence of the alleged “clinic effect” drawn from the narratives of student journals and self-reflection memoranda that demonstrate longitudinally their progress towards identifying and resolving ethical issues and their development of professional values. The journal evidence comes from two very similar legal clinics: the University of Strathclyde Law School in Scotland and the University of Miami Law School in the United States. Both are designed to maximise the provision of direct legal representation to impoverished clients and hence have high case loads. Both also emphasise the learning of professional and ethical values and judgment through guided self-reflection in which students identify and reflect in writing on the moral, ethical and professional issues they have faced during their clinical experiences. At the same time, differences in the length of clinical experience between the two law clinics and the age of the students involved allow for an examination of whether these factors affect the impact of ethical development.

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