Dalhousie Law Journal


law students, legal education, emotion, moral outrage, anger, lawyers, critical emotion studies


Many law students experience strong and sometimes difficult emotions during their time in clinical lawprograms: sadness at clients'stories of trauma, excitement about a victory in court, or anger at the injustices faced by clients. In this article, I focus on the emotion of "moral anger,"or "moral outrage" experienced by lawyers and students in clinicalcontexts, and consider how educators and students might address manifestations of moral anger in clinical law contexts in ways that ignite a critical and social-justice oriented approach to legal practice. By drawing on theoretical insights from the emerging field of critical emotion studies, I argue that a critical analysis of the role of moral anger in clinical legal education reveals its potential as an agent of transformation, but also signals a need for clinical educators to be wary of an uncritical understanding of this strong emotion. Drawing on the work of Michalinos Zembylas, Sara Ahmed, and others, Ipropose that clinicallaw students and teachers should seek to engage in critical "readings" • of moral anger-interpretations that acknowledge the role of strong emotions in legal practice, and then interrogate the meaning of these feelings in light of community context, power relations, and history. Such an approach, I argue, can literally "move" us into deeper understandings and potentially more meaningful and collaborative social-justice oriented practices.