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2 Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy 339 (1993)


Law schools, teaching primarily by the casebook method, generally avoid the thorny issues that real clients pose.' Recently, however, law review articles and the ""regular classroom"" have referred more frequently to real client stories. Law school clinics are a primary source of client stories. Despite increased attention to clinical programs, client interests are frequently subordinated to the goals of students, clinical law teachers and law schools. This article urges clinicians to constantly evaluate whether and how well they and their students take their clients' interests and perspectives on clinical education into account. It argues that clinic teachers must learn to tolerate and maximize the tension that exists between their duty to their students' education and the production of scholarship and their duty to their clients' goals. Part I provides a brief view of clinical teaching methods, the tension between student education and client service, and the impact of the law school setting on clinic work. Part II acknowledges client interests that are well served by law school clinics. Part III discusses client interests which tend to compete with student and school interests. Part IV outlines concrete suggestions for balancing client and student interests and offers supervisory and institutional practices that can help to keep clients' interests where they should be: first among equals. This article concludes that the struggles with client interests in the clinical setting should inform the rest of the legal curriculum.