Hope without optimism: Legal education in Spain at the threshold of Bologna Plan
As part of the European Union, Spain is obligated to implement the “Bologna Plan” by 2010. This article explores the historical and social forces which hinder Spain’s ability to fulfill this laudable goal as regards legal education. The Bologna Plan for legal education is an enormous undertaking. It begin in 1999 when the ministers for science and education of the European Union met to lay the groundwork for the reform and homogenization of higher education throughout the Union. The process started at Bologna aims for two principal objectives. The first is the establishment of a common educational ambit, including reciprocal recognition and equivalence of university degrees among member states. The second is the creation of a more competitive and higher-quality European university system that might regain ground lost to the more prestigious North American universities (without, of course, explicitly acknowledging any inferiority). Integrating legal education is particularly arduous. Not only do pedagogical approaches vary greatly (the main strains being the German, the Anglo-Saxon, and the Latin models), but the legal systems themselves belong to diverse families (primarily dividing at the English Channel). In Spain, the implementation in law schools of the Bologna process is especially problematical, because legal education is totally obsolete and disconnected from the requirements of the present day legal marketplace. The current near-crisis situation started when the best and brightest of Spain’s law professors were forced into exile by the Francoist dictatorship. For forty years under Franco, Spanish law schools were totally dependent on the state and the most regressive sectors of the Catholic Church. Consequently, they were hermetically sealed against new teaching ideas, alternative methodologies, academic freedom, and imported opinions. Although the situation improved with the transition to democracy, most standing faculty in Spanish universities were retained. Neither the addition of younger, more freethinking law professors, nor the successive waves of reforms throughout the 1980s and 1990s succeeded in changing the mind set of Spanish law schools. They remained retrograde even as compared to other departments in Spanish universities, especially those focusing on the pure sciences, technology, and medicine. Modernity, however, may still prevail. True, the implementation of Bologna is being met with fierce resistance by the educational establishment, but the number of law professors carrying out their postgraduate legal studies in the United States, the United Kingdom or Germany has increased considerably. These rara auis bring new visions and methodologies to Spanish law schools.
Josep Cañabate. "Hope without optimism: Legal education in Spain at the threshold of Bologna Plan" Barkley Law Review 1 (2007): 301-314.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/josep_canabate/6