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At an international conference on access to justice hosted by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York in 2000, Jean-Luc Bedos, a partner in the Paris office of Dentons and a founder of the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Droits D’Urgence, stated point blank: “Pro bono does not exist in France.” In the same presentation, Bedos mentioned that four hundred volunteer lawyers were working with his NGO to provide legal assistance to “sans-papiers” immigrants, obviously seeing no contradiction between the two statements. About a dozen years later, PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law would honor Bedos and two other French lawyers for their pioneering work in building pro bono culture in Europe, and Bedos now serves on the board of directors of PILnet, which has become the leading promoter of pro bono practice in Europe.
European legal teaching - historically formalistic, doctrinal, hierarchical, and passive - is coming under increasing pressure to reimagine itself as pragmatic, policy-aware, and action-oriented. Out of this context, a bottom-up movement of university law clinics appears to be emerging in Europe. Although intellectually indebted to the US model, the European variant reflects legal education and practice in Europe, specifically the multi-layered and multi-genetic legal landscape resulting from the Europeanization and internationalization of national legal systems, the globalization of European legal markets, and the growing demand for civic engagement in view of increasingly powerful supra-national institutions. Through the prism of clinical legal education, Reinventing Legal Education is the first attempt to gather scholarly and systematic reflections on the developments taking place in European legal teaching and practice. This groundbreaking book should be read by anyone interested in how clinical legal education is reinventing legal education in Europe.
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