Dalhousie Law Journal


Harvey Savage


Legal Aid Service, clinical law programs, discontent


In a seminal article on the feasibility of a 'Clinical Lawyer-School', Jerome Frank identified the kind of discontent that has since spawned clinical law programs in law schools. Ostensibly, the students were to study cases. But they did not and they do not study cases. They do not even study the printed records of cases (although that would be little enough), let alone cases as living processes. Their attention is restricted to judicial opinions. But an opinion is not a decision. A decision is a specific judgement, or order or decree entered after a trial of a specific law-suit between specific litigants. There are a multitude of factors which induce a jury to return a verdict, or a judge to enter a decree. Of those numerous factors, but few are set forth in judicial opinions. And those factors, not expressed in the opinions, frequently are the most important in the real causal explanation of the decisions.