Clinical Legal Education in Europe and Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals

Paul McKeown*, Ulrich Stege, Maxim Tomoszek

*Corresponding author for this work

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


Clinical legal education is a form of experiential learning where law students have the opportunity to integrate legal theory and practice by providing a range of legal services to the community while developing their own skills, knowledge, and sense of professional responsibility. Clinical legal education grew to prominence during the 1960s civil rights movement in the USA, but it has been slower to develop throughout much of Europe. However, recent years have seen the expansion of clinical legal education programs throughout Europe as well as the development of a European Network for Clinical Legal Education (ENCLE).

This contribution will draw upon various forms of clinical legal education and critically analyze how these methodologies contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals within the European region. The authors will consider the impact of clinical legal education on both the students and the wider community. For example, many clinical legal education programs adopt a “live-client” model in which students advise and represent individual clients. While such models contribute to alleviating poverty, challenging discriminatory practice, and reducing inequalities, it seems evident that its impact is not limited to the individual client. Clinical legal education attempts to bridge the gap between classroom education and the reality of professional practice, emphasizing the sensitization of students as future professionals to the problems of social justice, and to foster a sense of social responsibility. In addition, students engaging in clinical legal education are encouraged throughout their experience to envisage how legal institutions and practices can be reformed and reorganized to best serve society, contributing as such to the production of knowledge based on experience rather than on theory. Furthermore, clinical legal education programs, through alternative models such as public legal education programs, are providing information on legal rights and responsibilities, thus empowering the wider community. Alternatively, policy clinics engage students in research with the aim of influencing law reform and/or policy change.

Finally, this contribution will consider whether more can be done to realize the full potential of clinical legal education in achieving the sustainable development goals. In particular, the authors will consider whether clinical legal education remains at the fringe of many European law school programs rather than as a core component. Further, the authors will posit that the establishment of partnerships, including partnerships with other disciples, and networks will lead to achieving greater societal impact.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSDGs in the European Region
EditorsWalter Leal Filho, Maria Alzira Pimenta Dinis, Sara Moggi, Elizabeth Price, Alex Hope
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783030912611
ISBN (Print)9783030912611
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameImplementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals- Regional Perspectives
ISSN (Print)2731-5576
ISSN (Electronic)2731-5584


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