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Transnational clinical legal education


Legal Education


As the law becomes increasingly globalised and online education is increasingly emphasised, clinical legal education presents new opportunities for transnational collaboration. With more law schools introducing global clinical experiences into their curriculum, clinicians, students, clients, and practitioners are facing a host of new questions, challenges, and obstacles. These challenges are practical, logistical, ethical, and cultural. As research has found, finding a means of addressing these issues in ways that advance social justice has proven difficult. Striking a balance between client service and student learning, navigating relationships between different learning institutions, and setting ambitious but attainable goals are important elements of any clinic, but become increasingly vital for the success of a transnational clinical programme. Despite these obstacles and foundational questions, we argue that transnational clinical education presents benefits to all parties involved. This article assesses the methods, strengths, weaknesses, and outcomes of a collaboration between Cornell Law School’s Human Rights Clinic and National Law University (NLU), Delhi, that took place in 2017. This clinic focused on advocacy in favour of lifting bans on compensated surrogacy in both India and New York, culminating in two reports, an event at the United Nations, and testimony before the New York State Assembly. Twelve students from Cornell Law School and eight students from NLU, Delhi met weekly in a ‘global classroom’ equipped with video and chat functions to discuss the goals of the clinic, background readings, and their respective projects within the clinic. Eight students from Ithaca travelled to Delhi for eight days, conducting interviews and engaging in fact-finding with NLU, Delhi students. Together, students and clinicians from Cornell Law School and NLU, Delhi authored two reports, one focused on the U.S., and one focused on India, which were disseminated to each country’s governments. Our reflections on this programme are meant to serve as a learning experience for other clinicians considering implementing a transnational clinical legal education opportunity.


Published online: 20 February 2021.