Developing Values in the Lawyers of Tomorrow: Potential Lessons from the United States
David F. Chavkin
Clinical legal education began developing in the United States more than 70 years ago, but today represents the fastest growing feature of American legal education. This growth has accelerated since the publication of the MacCrate Report by the ABA Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession in 1992. This Report described the need to make education in lawyering skills and values central to the mission of law schools. It also described a methodology for teaching skills and values that define clinical legal education today in American law schools.
The emphasis on lawyering values reflected a soul-searching attempt by the American Bar Association and American law schools to develop a community of lawyers who will aspire to the highest ethical and professional standards. In this article, the author argues that clinical legal education is the only model in which values can effectively be inculcated in the lawyers of tomorrow. By providing law students with opportunities to "own" lawyer-client experiences and be professionally responsible for their actions, future lawyers can experience professional standards in a way that neither classroom nor vicarious learning can hope to match. Moreover, in the clinical setting, students have the opportunity to work through ethical issues with qualified supervising attorneys and to reflect critically on the choices presented.
Formal apprenticeships in the United States are now largely committed to history. Clinical legal education has increasingly supplanted them as a way to develop law students into lawyers and to provide them with an opportunity to learn lawyering skills and values in a coherent and effective way. This experience has potential relevance for Israeli law schools as they grapple with the best ways to educate future lawyers and to develop in them the professional values that will further the role of law in the country.