Painful injustices : clinical legal education and the pedagogy of suffering
In this thesis, I argue that clinical law teaching requires a theoretical analysis and pedagogical framework to address law students’ encounters with social suffering in clinical law contexts. A critical “pedagogy of suffering”, I argue, would take at its starting point an acknowledgement of the importance of the law student-client encounter as a deeply important “pedagogical site” - a place where certain views about lawyering, law, and justice are played out, and therefore a place that ought to be the subject of close attention by clinical law scholars and teachers. I argue that a critical pedagogy of suffering would focus specifically on the presence of human suffering in many of these encounters. Such a pedagogy would seek to distill the ways in which larger social and systemic forces produce and distribute social suffering, and how the dominant legal gaze and dominant legal practice are too often incapable of assessing or responding to these forces. It would also work to challenge notions that emotions and suffering are apolitical and unrelated to progressive legal practice, and to build a conception that engaged, critical “witnessing” of social suffering by lawyers and law students might lead to passionate and thoughtful lawyering for social justice in clinical law settings.
social suffering, legal practice, clinical law, legal pedagogy, professional identity
Master of Laws (LL.M.)
College of Law
College of Law