Do we want a human first, and a lawyer second? Developing law student empathy through clinical legal education

Amy Lawton, Kathryn Saban, Sadie Whittam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the UK, the legal profession is increasingly acknowledging the importance of emotional intelligence and empathy in legal practice. Furthermore, research has demonstrated that soft skills such as empathy can be taught, and these skills should be incorporated in legal education. This study uses the Basic Empathy Scale to examine whether law student participation in law clinic and tax clinic modules had any effect on students’ self-reported empathy levels. It is submitted that, in general, the students who worked in clinic experienced a statistically significant positive shift in their empathy levels. However, a few students who worked in clinic also experienced a decrease in their empathy levels, and the possible reasons for this are explored. In addition, this paper considers the impact of gender on students’ self-reported empathy levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-31
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Legal Education
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2022

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