Catholic University law school Professors Leah Wortham (Emerita) and Catherine Klein spent the week of July 10-17 in Europe attending and presenting at two major international conferences on legal education.
The first was the Sixth International Legal Ethics Conference, sponsored by the International Association of Legal Ethics (IAOLE) and held at City University London.
There, Wortham organized and opened a two-part, 14-person panel on “Legal Ethics Education beyond Common Law Countries.” At the same conference, Klein served as a panelist on the topic “Teaching Ethics in Clinic; Why, What & How?”
Legal ethics instruction is required, or at least common, in the United States, Canada, the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand. Historically, however, it has not been part of university legal education in countries influenced by the civil law tradition.
Klein and Wortham were joined by academics who talked about the state of legal ethics education in Cambodia, Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, the Kyrgyz Republic, Laos, Myanmar, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, as well as results of a survey of law faculties in Arab countries.
In the Czech Republic, Klein and Wortham attended the 12th Annual International Journal of Clinical Legal Education conference (IJCLE) held at Palacky University in Olomouc, and Charles University in Prague. Nearly 200 people from approximately 30 countries attended.
With Paula Galowitz from New York University, Klein presented on “Teaching to Scaffolding: Utilizing Interdisciplinary Knowledge and Building Effective Multidisciplinary Teams in Our Clinical Programs.”
Along with two co-editors of the highly-regarded externship text, Learning from Practice, Wortham lead a session on “Externships without Borders.” They discussed how the third edition of the text, currently in process, might be applicable and useful to clinical legal education programs outside of the U.S.
Both CUA Law professors also presented in a session on “Externship Clinics for the Benefit of Marginalized Communities: Benefits and Challenges.”
Wortham and Klein were among the pioneers in the effort to spread the value and appreciation for clinical legal education beyond American law school classrooms. In 1996, the colleagues helped Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland establish the first such clinic in Central Europe that has been in continuous operation since its founding.
Since then, clinics have taken hold in Central and Eastern Europe as a vital component of legal education, but only recently has there been a surge of clinical activity in the civil law countries of Continental Europe, as well as a new burst of activity in the United Kingdom where clinics had existed for some time.
Wortham led a round table session, “Is There a Distinctive Identity for European Clinical Legal Education?” that explored reasons for these waves of growth and how this experience compares to that of the many regions of the world represented at the conference.