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16 William Mitchell Law Review 463 (1990)


In legal education, as in all education aimed at practice, the relationship between theory and practice is an uneasy one. William Mitchell College of Law, one of the nation’s few free-standing law schools, has traditionally placed itself squarely on the practice side of the theory/practice axis. It has aimed to produce law graduates who could walk into a law office and begin practicing law—not lawyers who would spend additional years learning the profession at someone’s elbow. In recent years, William Mitchell has begun to embrace a more academic approach to legal education. This paper suggests that the College need not, and should not, turn its back on its practical past as it moves along the path of academic rigor. The first section shows that the highest and best use of clinical education—education which uses real or realistic lawyer experiences—furthers the goal of producing lawyers who are competent practically, well-integrated, and have a clear and critical sense of what the work of the lawyer is and ought to be. The paper then proceeds to develop a series of criteria for designing and evaluating a clinical program to meet that goal.