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Problem-solving is most often taught in the context of representing individual clients in small manageable cases where students retain primary control and develop a sense of ownership. Increasingly, law school clinical programs are involving students in broader service projects designed to meet the needs of clients that go unaddressed by the legal system. Student involvement in these projects presents challenges for the traditional model of problem-solving taught in individual case representation. This article explores the challenges of translating the problem-solving techniques employed in direct representation of individual clients into the larger context of problem-solving for a client community by examining each step of the traditional problem-solving process. It then demonstrates how the author has used the strategies of compartmentalization, connection, collaboration and continuity to help overcome these challenges, and explores some of the trade-offs and tensions that are involved in such an effort, using the author's work with students developing an assisted pro se prison service project as an example. The article concludes that the challenges are real, but that the “justice education” that the students experience as a result of involvement in service projects makes it worth the effort.

Publication Citation

8 Clinical L. Rev. 405 (2002).