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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 student supervision of client work. 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 identifying and discussing the import of these concerns, this article asserts 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. Specifically, this article sets forth a deliberate and systematic decision-making process for the clinical law professor’s use. The decision-making process proposed is context-specific and dependent on the objectives of the clinical law professor. 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, such as entering into a Memorandum of Understanding to solidify roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in the collaboration. 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.

Publication Citation

20 Clinical L. Rev. 379-428 (2014)