Philip Genty, 15 Clinical L. Rev. 131 (2008).

Have American clinical instructors overlooked differences between civil and common law cultures in international clinical collaboration, resulting in a form of legal imperialism?

While the threat of legal imperialism is generally recognized in the field of comparative legal analysis, the celebrated non-directive style of clinical legal education seems insensitive to cultural differences between the two systems.

Genty highlights five particular differences in civil and common law which are underappreciated by U.S. clinical teachers: 1) the importance of substance rather than process; 2) the importance of mastering rather than creatively interpreting legal doctrine; 3) the limited importance of the attorney-client relationship; 4) the importance of an informed authority figure; and 5) the lack of a concept of cause lawyering. By recognizing the dominant role of doctrine in civil societies and employing scientific techniques to teaching substantive law, cross-border clinical collaboration and learning can become more productive.

PILnet would like to thank the author, as well as the Clinical Law Review, for authorizing the publication of this article on PILnet’s resource page.