Can Social Justice Values be Taught Through Clinical Legal Education?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

This chapter explores whether we can teach students the value of social justice through clinical methodology. It is important to understand where people have come from and where they are going. With this is mind, this chapter will consider how an individual’s values are moulded, as well as explore the institutional values of the legal profession.

As a term, social justice is often used within education without definition, with a sense that the definition is obvious. Social justice has been defined as “equality of rights for all peoples and the possibility for all human beings, without discrimination, to benefit from the economic and social progress disseminated and secured through international cooperation”.

This definition encompasses common conceptions of social justice espoused by Rawls’ Principles of Justice: Equal Liberties; Equal Opportunity and the Difference Principle. This can be contrasted with the elements of social justice espoused by Miller, namely: need (referring to the basic necessities), desert (referring to reward); and equality (the notion that citizens are equal).

It has been argued that social justice is a value of the legal profession and therefore lawyers should seek to promote and attain social justice through their work. It is sometimes difficult to reconcile the abstract theories with the practical application of the law. However, these theories can be utilized to critically analyse and evaluate policy, legal processes and the law to determine whether they are consistent with the notion of social justice.

It has been argued that social justice is a value of the legal profession and therefore lawyers should seek to promote and attain social justice through their work. It is sometimes difficult to reconcile the abstract theories with the practical application of the law. However, these theories can be utilized to critically analyse and evaluate policy, legal processes and the law to determine whether they are consistent with the notion of social justice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Justice and Legal Education
EditorsChris Ashford, Paul McKeown
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars
Chapter6
Pages84-110
Number of pages27
EditionFirst
ISBN (Print)978-1-5275-0646-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

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