CLEO, the Clinical Legal Education Organisation, is an independent charity dedicated to "promoting the advancement of legal education and the study of law".
For almost 20 years, CLEO has been providing encouragement, expertise and support to develop clinical legal education in UK law schools. This has been done primarily through workshops, one-off events, and the sharing of individuals' experience. As an informal organisation, CLEO encouraged legal clinicians to share their experiences and best practices and facilitated (sometimes in conjunction with LawWorks) the emergence of new clinical legal education initiatives in a large number of universities.
CLEO has the following goals and aims:
to help address unmet legal need and the improvement of access to justice generally
to provide legal clinicians with advice, support and guidance on the development of clinical legal education
to provide and promote a wide range of best practice guidance on clinical legal education issues
to promote collaboration between universities (collectively and individually) and third sector and public sector organisations to identify legal needs and provide clinical legal education and pro bono services to address these needs
to continue to develop a reputation as a non-partisan and objective organisation with expertise in the areas of access to justice, clinical legal education and associated policy areas
Background & Legal Status
The Clinical Legal Education Organisation ('CLEO') held its inaugural meeting in about 1995 – some say earlier! For many years, it was an informal alliance that promoted and supported the growth of pro bono legal advice clinics in UK law schools.
It has only been in relatively recent times that law schools have shown a distinct commitment to CLEO’s model of public service and legal education. The reasons for this are complex but include the changing nature of legal services provision, the cutbacks in public funding of legal services (legal aid), and the importance of employability to law students.
A survey of UK law schools suggests that 73% of institutions now have pro bono and clinical initiatives. More than a quarter of these include a clinic as an integrated part of the curriculum, demonstrating that clinical activity is becoming embedded in mainstream legal education.
CLEO operated as an unincorporated entity for many years, organising workshops and training events for those involved in, or wanting to set up, pro bono clinics. At its conference in November 2013 a decision was taken to formally constitute the organisation with a view to better representing its members and making a more structured contribution to national debates on legal services and educational provision.
Consequently, CLEO is now a company limited by guarantee and a charity registered with the Charity Commission (number 1161457). Its trustees are drawn from various law departments throughout the UK – they currently are:
Carol Boothby Northumbria University
Malcolm Combe University of Aberdeen
Amanda Crutchley University of Law (Bristol)
Nicholas Johnson Nottingham Trent University
Jane Krishnadas Keele University
Donald Nicolson University of Essex
Julie Pinborough Queen Mary University of London
Julie Price Cardiff University
Anna Rudkin Sheffield Hallam University
Gareth Thomas University of East Anglia
Linden Thomas University of Birmingham
Lucy Yeatman Liverpool University