Finding your Balance on the Tightrope: Reflections from a Clinical Life

Brenda Bratton Blom, University of Maryland School of Law

Document Type Article

Published in University of Maryland Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class, v. 4, 2004, p. 273-277.


Clinical education is a pedagogical method that links theory and practice. It imposes the responsibility of becoming both an excellent practitioner and an excellent teacher and academic. Linking theory and practice elevates the practice and delivery of legal services to an equal level with thinking about and understanding legal theory. Those who teach by linking theory and practice introduce a “super-apprenticeship” model instead of the traditional Socratic method, combining the best qualities of both an apprenticeship and a deeply reflective theoretical study. In these instances, students learn doctrinal law, as well as the skills to analyze the law and apply it to real world situations. But the multitude of responsibilities for clinical educators can be crushing if one thinks of oneself as alone and responsible for everything. Yet academic institutions have few mechanisms for people to share common goals and visions, develop working long term plans, and coordinate activities, work allocations, responsibilities, and projects. If one feels like part of a team of people who are working toward a goal, then one can think of these tasks in a longer term way, as well as create opportunities for the range of activities that are juxtaposed.