The Director of Legal Studies, Mr. Mitchell Davies, and three law students recently visited Stetson Law School in Tampa, Florida, where the students were taking part in the November 2010 Caribbean Law Clinic ("CLC") organized by the American and Caribbean Law Initiative ("ACLI").
The ACLI is an association of four Southern US law schools and four Caribbean law schools which organizes the CLC biannually with the members' schools hosting the clinic in rotation. In addition to CILS, the member organizations are: Norman Manley Law School (Jamaica); Eugene Dupuch Law School (Bahamas); Hugh Wooding Law School (Trinidad); Thurgood Marshall Law School (Texas); Nova South Eastern University (Florida); Florida Coastal Law School (Florida); Stetson Law School (Florida). A ninth member school is also expected to join this group in the near future.
The Caribbean Law Clinic is the flagship event of the ACLI and exposes students to valuable advocacy training, requiring them to make legal arguments to an experienced panel of judges which may be drawn from members of the local judiciary. There are two novel features of the clinic which, in the words of Mr. Davies, make it "a unique and valuable experience", these being that:
- "Students are placed into teams with their peers from the other law schools. This means that participating students from CILS will usually not be in the same team as each other, encouraging team building skills and collaborative techniques.
- The questions set for deliberation at each clinic all concern practical legal issues and are usually set by members of the Attorney General's Chambers of the host organization, often being based upon real cases which may even be ongoing. This leads to the second unique feature of the clinics: the advice given by students is required to focus on local law and procedure. As well as testing students' legal research skills, this requirement provides an invaluable exposure to foreign legal rules."
Although participating students from the other law schools are usually studying law at a postgraduate level, CILS students have traditionally acquitted themselves very well at the CLC. According to Mr. Davies, the latest clinic was no exception, with Sandra Catron (Professional Practice Course) and Emmerita McFadzean (second year LL.B), both presenting their arguments to the panel of Tampa District Attorneys persuasively and with confidence. They were joined by Joahvon Myles (second year LL.B) whose legal research produced some useful arguments which formed part of his team's presentation.
The next institution to host the Caribbean Law Clinic in March 2011 is the Cayman Islands Law School. This will be the second time that CILS has hosted the clinic with the Solicitor General being part of the judging panel to have presided over the cases four years ago. All questions at the forthcoming clinic, which it is hoped will once again be set by Crown Counsel from the Cayman Islands Legal Department, will require detailed legal research being undertaken into Cayman Islands Law.