Barriers to accessing credit continue to prevent people from escaping property. Fortunately, these barriers are surmountable. CMLC is committed to the economic empowerment of traditionally disadvantaged groups and has pioneered a way to act on this commitment while staying true to CMLC’s core mission of improving legal education in East Asia. Indeed, CMLC has discovered that bringing underprivileged groups into modern financial systems is actually a teachable moment (see description below). With our new partner, Yunnan University Law School, CMLC will establish the first legal education clinic dedicated to providing free legal advice to consumers of microcredit and other small scale financial products.
The Law Clinic for Microcredit, Microinsurance and Microsurety (“Microcredit Clinic”) endeavors to train law students to advise disadvantaged groups (namely, those who cannot afford lawyers) on the legal aspects of small-scale borrowing, insurance and guarantees. In the clinic, law students, under the guidance of licensed Chinese lawyers, will provide legal advice to low income borrowers on the 1) microcredit options available; 2) the borrowers rights and responsibilities under loan contracts; 3) the borrowers rights and responsibilities under any guarantee contracts ancillary to the main loan contract and 4) some advice to borrowers on insuring risks, managing payments and avoiding loan default. The clinic will also offer some corporate law consultancy, particularly for communities that want to build lending cooperatives, which require incorporation and by-laws for proper establishment and operation. Some basic corporate law and business licensing advice for small businesses borrowing through microcredit programs will also be provided.
The purpose of a legal education clinic is two-fold. First, law clinics enhance legal education by adding important practical training to the law students’ academic coursework. Second, law clinics provide law students with the opportunity to contribute to underserved communities, which in the case of the Microcredit Clinic, is guidance to law income borrowers and communities unable to otherwise afford the services of a lawyers. The Microcredit Clinic is designed as a transactional, non-adversarial law service program that will not engage in or assist with any litigation.
As a combined academic and charitable endeavor, law clinics do not charge the clients they assist. Students get law school course credit for their work in the clinic, but their real reward is the practical training the students receive to make them better future lawyers and the joy which comes from helping others. Students and the people they serve can only enjoy such benefits, however, through the generous support of benefactors who believe in CMLC’s mission and recognize the important social contributions offered by CMLC’s Microcredit Clinic. Please donate .