Clients Don't take Sabbaticals: The Indispensable In-House Clinic and the Teaching of Empathy
KeywordsClinical Law Review
Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility
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AbstractAfter almost 12 years in law teaching, I approached my first sabbatical with a single goal: to free myself from cases. At that time my clinic clients were primarily parents who were involved in family court proceedings in which they were trying to preserve their parental rights and get their children out of the foster care system. Such cases are emotionally draining for both the client and the lawyer. Thus, while I welcomed the chance to have a semester off from teaching and attending faculty and committee meetings, I felt that I needed a break from the demands of lawyering on behalf of clients. It did not work out that way. Given that the clinic would not be taught during my semester off, my dean was less than thrilled about the idea of hiring a lawyer simply to handle my 25 or so open clinic cases. At first I was prepared to push the issue, but upon closer examination of my caseload, I realized the obvious – the handful of especially demanding cases involved clients to whom the clinic and I had the greatest personal obligation.