Romanians eat our Big Macs, wolf down pizza slices at Pizza Hut, and guzzle Coca-Cola. They wear baseball caps, Nike clothing, and tennis shoes. They listen to American rap and pop music, see American movies with Romanian subtitles, and watch all of our old television shows. Romanians of all ages, but especially the young, hunger and thirst for all things Western, particularly from the United States. Doesn't it follow, then, that Romanian law schools ought to have - and, indeed, Romanian law professors would want - that symbol of an innovative, modern American law school curriculum: a live client clinical program? The answer is a resounding no. Most Romanian educators are not familiar with clinical legal education and are too busy to be seriously interested in any curricular reform. Those professors who are knowledgeable about clinical education generally believe that in-house live client clinics are completely unworkable in the Romanian context. From my perspective, these Romanians are absolutely correct. Given the existing structure of Romanian education, the nature of the Romanian system, and the limited resources available to Romanian law schools, pedagogically sound in-house live client clinics are not feasible. Nevertheless, Romanian legal educators - and those of other countries of the region - are being pressured and cajoled by some American consultants and outside funding entities to add in-house live client clinics to their curriculum. Based upon my experiences as a CEELI1 Legal Specialist in Romania, I believe the Romanians should resist the pressure to add live client clinical programs and instead focus on developing other badly needed courses that will provide their students the skills and values they need to be good lawyers. The development of such courses will not, however, be easy.This essay begins by examining why in-house live client clinic programs are, indeed, not viable in Romania or in most of the other economically struggling countries of the region. The essay next highlights some of the serious hurdles facing a country such as Romania seeking to achieve meaningful legal education reform. Finally, it concludes by reminding American educators promoting American-style clinical legal education in other countries of the limits of their role and by urging potential donors to provide funding that promotes, rather than frustrates, meaningful curricular reform.
Rodney J. Uphoff, Why in-House Live Client Clinics Won't Work in Romania: Confessions of A Clinician Educator, 6 Clinical L. Rev. 315 (1999)