Pro bono models in law schools and the student experience: Challenges and opportunities moving forward

Francesca Bartlett, Francina Cantatore, Rachael M Field, Mandy Shircore

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The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged existing pro bono and clinical legal education (CLE) models in law schools on two important fronts: the need to have flexible structures in place to provide the community with ongoing legal services in the event of occurrences such as a global pandemic and how to optimise the student learning experience under these types of conditions. These challenges have highlighted the importance of maintaining strong, ongoing partnerships with industry and community legal organisations as well as resilience in law school initiatives. Law schools typically rely on partnership arrangements for clinical legal education (CLE) and pro bono initiatives. However, an awareness of the impact of external circumstances such as a pandemic or natural disasters on partner organisations is important to successfully adapt student programs in these conditions and assist these organisations to continue to provide access to justice services, whilst maintaining an optimal student experience. In this regard, universities should not only be responsive to industry partners’ changed conditions but also prepare for such eventualities themselves and be flexible in creating new opportunities to enhance the student learning experience. This paper deals with some of the challenges faced by two university pro bono and CLE programs during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they were addressed. It also considers how CLE and pro bono initiatives in law schools can benefit from these measures in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2022
EventAustralasian Law Academics Association Conference 2022: Evolution or revolution? Challenging legal education and scholarship - Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 7 Jul 20229 Jul 2022


ConferenceAustralasian Law Academics Association Conference 2022
Abbreviated titleALAA
Internet address


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