Clinical Legal Education

“I interviewed with a couple of the big five law firms and have received offers from both of them. Basically, I believe that it was due to my work placement last year. They were really interested in the work I carried out and it gave me an opportunity to demonstrate that I could work on my own initiative outside of the lecture theatre. As I said before, it was an invaluable work experience and definitely a major stepping stone.”

“I really think having participated in the clinical placement programme was a big factor in getting a job as a Legal Researcher with the Northern Ireland Law Commission so I wanted to thank you for that opportunity. I hope the programme continues to be successful and students get as much out of it as I did.”

These two comments from former participants in NUI Galway’s School of Law’s Clinical Legal Education programme illustrate its great track record of success since it started in 2006-2007. Final year students in the Bachelor of Civil Law degree programme use their legal skills in placements with government agencies, quasi- and non-governmental organisations and with practicing lawyers throughout Ireland. They work on a part-time basis instead of taking an additional subject and receive academic credit for their efforts. In so doing, students get to see how the theoretical legal concepts they learn about in the lecture theatre operate in the “real world.” Among others, students have worked in the Equality Authority, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Mental Health Commission, Ability West and with lawyers who specialise in a number of different areas. The placements provide students with great experience and a chance to see how law can be an effective tool for advancing the public interest.

The School of Law’s Clinical Legal Education programme has been profiled in the local media, in Engage magazine and in the Irish Farmers Journal. The programme, which is directed by Larry Donnelly, a Boston attorney and Lecturer in the School of Law, was named a finalist for the prestigious MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship earlier this year.

Further information can be obtained by contacting Larry Donnelly or Lughaidh Kerin, directly at larry.donnelly@nuigalway.ie or lughaidh.kerin@nuigalway.ie respectively.

Interviews 

Larry discusses the Law School’s pioneering efforts to date in this field and articulates his vision for the future in this interview with Lorraine McIlrath of the Community Knowledge Initiative. In her interview, Justine O’Connor, final year Bachelor of Civil Law student, discusses the benefits of her experience on a clinical placement with the Equality Authority.