A comparative study into legal education and graduate employability skills in law students through pro bono law clinics

Francina Cantatore, David McQuoid-Mason, Valeska Geldres, Juan Carlos Guajardo-Puga

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Abstract

Law students face challenges when entering the employment market irrespective of where they reside. Apart from increasing competition from their peers, there is often a disconnect between theory in law courses and the realities of legal practice. The significant leap from “student” to “early career lawyer” or “graduate lawyer” requires law schools to be more proactive in incorporating practice-based legal skills. Whether experience is gained through clinical education, external work experience or pro bono programmes, the effect of practical work experience is to increase self-confidence, practice knowledge and, consequently, employability in students. Extracurricular community engagement has been widely recognised as enhancing graduate employability by combining experiential learning, coursework and community service, with teaching clinics providing suitable learning opportunities for law students. This paper focuses on the perceived benefits of experiential learning in pro bono teaching clinics with reference to three case studies of successful law faculty teaching clinics in different jurisdictions: an established law clinic in Australia; an established law clinic in South Africa; and an emerging law clinic in Chile. The results of the study indicate that students in all three jurisdictions – Australia, Chile and South Africa – will reap advantageous benefits from their clinical experience when entering the workplace.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Law Teacher
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Nov 2020

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