Clinical Legal Education and Social Justice – A Perspective from the Wits Law Clinic

Authors Dakalo Singo, Alicia Raymond

ISSN: 1996-2193
Affiliations: Supervising Attorney and Lecturer, Wits Law Clinic, University of the Witwatersrand; Supervising Attorney and Lecturer, Wits Law Clinic, University of the Witwatersrand
Source: Stellenbosch Law Review, Volume 29 Issue 2, 2018, p. 295 – 313


Against the backdrop of a post-Apartheid South Africa operating under a constitutional democracy, this article considers the contemporary relationship between clinical legal education ("CLE") and social justice. To provide context, the article: presents an overview of university law clinics; addresses their role within the Bachelor of Laws ("LLB") degree; and gives brief insight into their historical relationship to social justice. In outlining the conceptual nature of social justice, the article identifies common themes which the authors use to formulate a contemporary definition of social justice, that is contextually specific to South Africa, and which is rooted in justice and Ubuntu. Having analysed social justice as a concept, it is argued that CLE as a teaching methodology is the most appropriate component of the LLB degree for the effective teaching of lessons in social justice. Using the authors’ own experiences as clinicians at the Wits Law Clinic, the article provides two practical examples highlighting how social justice lessons may be learnt by law students participating in a CLE programme. The article concludes with a brief discussion of challenges that hinder the optimal realisation of social justice teaching and the lessons attainable from such teaching.