Document Type



The introduction of Drug Courts and other problem-solving courts has brought significant change to the American criminal justice system. This change has required lawyers working in these courts to re-examine their role and to re-consider and re-calibrate the nature of their interactions and relationships with their clients and all of the other actors in the system. This article looks beyond the rhetorically charged debate that has marked these changes and offers instead a close examination of the actual experience of lawyers, judges, and most importantly, defendant-participants, in these courts. This examination demonstrates that many of the traditional values embedded in the role of lawyer for the accused have a central place within these new-model courts, provided lawyers are prepared to adapt the forms of practice through which they pursue those values. This article urges clinical law teachers to play a leading role in transcending this debate and preparing modern law students for this increasingly important method of practice. In doing so, the article highlights those aspects of the clinical pedagogical tradition that are best-suited to the new type of practice as well as the ways in which problem-solving court will require clinical teachers to adapt and stretch to a degree similar to the practitioners already confronting these challenges.