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Calling, character and clinical legal education : a cradle to grave approach to inculcating a love for justice

Nicolson, Donald (2013) Calling, character and clinical legal education : a cradle to grave approach to inculcating a love for justice. Legal Ethics, 16 (1). pp. 36-56. ISSN 1460-728X

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This article argues that lawyers have personal moral obligations to help ensure that no one who needs legal services goes without and hence that the practice of law should be seen as involving a calling to promote access to justice. One important aim of the law schools should thus be to inculcate in their students a sense of this calling and ideally to ensure that this notion of 'altru-ethical' professionalism becomes part of each lawyer's moral character. Drawing on educational theory, studies on the impact of law clinics on students' ethical values and a survey of the attitudes towards a legal career, this article argues that the most effective way of inculcating such a sense of calling is through lengthy student involvement in live-client law clinics combined with ethics teaching and opportunities for reflection. It then describes a unique new degree, the University of Strathclyde Clinical LLB, which adopts a cradle to grave approach to the integration of ethics teaching and clinical experience into the standard law degree with the aim of increasing the chances of a sense of altruistic calling becoming part of a student's professional moral character.