Reimagining Advocacy: Rhetorical Education in the Legal Clinic

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Penn State Press, Apr 30, 2018 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 192 pages

Domestic violence accounts for approximately one-fifth of all violent crime in the United States and is among the most difficult issues confronting professionals in the legal and criminal justice systems. In this volume, Elizabeth Britt argues that learning embodied advocacy—a practice that results from an expanded understanding of expertise based on lived experience—and adopting it in legal settings can directly and tangibly help victims of abuse.

Focusing on clinical legal education at the Domestic Violence Institute at the Northeastern University School of Law, Britt takes a case-study approach to illuminate how challenging the context, aims, and forms of advocacy traditionally embraced in the U.S. legal system produces better support for victims of domestic violence. She analyzes a wide range of materials and practices, including the pedagogy of law school training programs, interviews with advocates, and narratives written by students in the emergency department, and looks closely at the forms of rhetorical education through which students assimilate advocacy practices. By examining how students learn to listen actively to clients and to recognize that clients have the right and ability to make decisions for themselves, Britt shows that rhetorical education can succeed in producing legal professionals with the inclination and capacity to engage others whose values and experiences diverge from their own.

By investigating the deep relationship between legal education and rhetorical education, Reimagining Advocacy calls for conversations and action that will improve advocacy for others, especially for victims of domestic violence seeking assistance from legal professionals.


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Attitudes toward Advocacy
Learning to Recognize the Expertise of Others
Learning to Defer to Others
Learning to Support the Rhetorical Work of Others
Research Methods
Interview Participants

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About the author (2018)

Elizabeth C. Britt is Associate Professor of English at Northeastern University. She is the author of Conceiving Normalcy: Rhetoric, Law, and the Double Binds of Infertility.

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