Where’s the Public Interest? Situating and Teaching Traditional Public Interest in Non-Traditional Clinics
Social justice and dedication to serving the public interest have long been the bedrock of law school clinical education. Traditional direct-services clinics epitomize this focus on serving the unmet legal needs of our communities and advancing a generally progressive agenda for social and legal change.
Among the innovations in clinical education over the last 15-plus years, one of the most challenging is the emergence of clinics focused on non-traditional subject areas and practice types. These include clinics (such as ours) that address intellectual property law and technology and innovation policy; clinics handling entrepreneurship and small- business needs, and clinics focused on corporate and transactional projects. While it is easy to make the case that these non-traditional clinics serve many traditional clinical pedagogical goals such as skills development, building professional identity, mastering client interaction, etc., it can be more difficult to understand and articulate how these clinics serve traditional social justice and public service goals, or even whether they should.
We hope for a candid and illuminating conversation among clinicians from both traditional and non-traditional clinics around a set of topics dealing with: