Engaging Outside Counsel in Transactional Law Clinics

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This article examines the plurality of objectives and methods by which transactional law clinics collaborate with outside attorneys to competently represent their organizational clients on a wide range of legal issues. Some transactional law clinics rely on outside counsel as informal legal advisors or consultants; others collaborate with outside counsel for the development of community projects or referral of legal work; many transactional law clinics engage outside counsel as “local counsel” when assisting a client in other jurisdictions or internationally; still others engage outside counsel more formally to assist in the supervision of student work on client cases. For some, the idea of a clinic working with outside counsel poses a credible threat to clinical pedagogy, clinical faculty status, and the permanent integration of clinics into the law school curriculum. To others, collaborating with outside counsel is a part of everyday client representation, and may be necessary for ethical and professional responsibility reasons. While discussing the import of these concerns, this article identifies the benefits of collaborating with outside attorneys for law school clinical programs and proposes a framework for deciding whether and how to collaborate with outside attorneys. This article further recommends proactive steps that a clinical law professor can take to facilitate the clinical law professor’s objectives if she decides to engage outside counsel. While this article examines collaboration with outside counsel primarily through the lens of transactional law based clinical programs, our discussion provides helpful guidance to law school clinical programs generally.


Originally published in the Clinical Law Review in 2014.