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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Educating Lawyers in an Age of Arm Chair Activism

Karla McKanders, Associate Professor of LawCollege of Law

​1960s lawyers were known for spearheading the Civil Rights, anti-Vietnam War, Women’s and Student movements, which transformed the U.S. justice system. Contrastingly, in the digital age, “armchair activists” post about civil rights violations from the comfort of their homes. While many students still pursue a legal degree to enter into a service-oriented career, others question whether training lawyers to be “change agents” is an idea of the past. This presentation centers on the Clinical Legal Education model, which has the dual goals of educating future lawyers and providing quality legal assistance to individuals without access to the justice system. The presentation asks whether there are present-day ideological impediments that inhibit the inculcation of a “change agent” perspective in today's future lawyers. This inquiry is explored through examining the local and international service learning projects in which The University of Tennessee’s Immigration Clinic has engaged in Knoxville, Swaziland, and Morocco.

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