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In speaking about “impact” clinical legal education, it is almost always exclusively as litigation—innocence projects, representing Guantanamo detainees, human rights concerns, environmental issues. Though these clinical efforts target different societal ills, all try to use the legal system as a catalyst for change. Rarely do clinicians invoke the word “impact” in the same manner in discussing transactional legal work much less transactional clinics. Yet transactional clinics can and do perform impact work. This article describes the current landscape of transactional clinics, the distinct evolution of community economic development clinics from small business and organizations clinics and argues that both can expand their vision of impact and employ new strategies to affect change. The article discusses the importance of clinic design in assuring that impact work is not undertaken at the expense of students’ educations. It argues that clinic design is comprised of three separate dimensions—service, skills development, and pedagogy—each of which influences and is influenced by the type of work that a clinic undertakes. The article suggests that clinicians should deliberately assess each dimension in determining its effect by an impact strategy. The article concludes by describing particular impact strategies the author employs in the clinic he directs, the strengths and weaknesses of such strategies, and encourages transactional clinicians to expand their conception of “impact” transactional work.

Publication Citation

18 Clinical Law Review 1 (2011).