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Legal Education as a Rule of Law Strategy: Problems and Opportunities with U.S.-based Programs
U.C. Davis Journal of International Law & Policy (2015)
  • David Pimentel, University of Idaho
Education can be powerful force in building the rule of law in developing countries and transitional states—especially in light of its power to influence culture and its ability to sustain meaningful change. Building a more effective system of legal education is a long term project, however, and a difficult sell given the way rule of law reform gets funded. Shorter term impacts are possible, however, through U.S.-based educational opportunities, which therefore present a compelling opportunity for rule of law promotion. Addressing short-term legal education deficiencies with U.S.-based education can contribute to a vision for the future of legal education in country, inspired by participants’ first-hand experience at a U.S. law school. It can make local actors, rather than foreign consultants or other outsiders, the agents of change. Also the networks the students build during their time in the U.S.—fellow students and faculty—can provide a resource base for future reform efforts. Success with such programs depends, however, on these individuals’ (1) returning home, and (2) assuming positions of influence there. Moreover, there is concern about the quality of the educational experience they get in the U.S., as few programs are geared to the needs of students from transitional democracies or the developing world. All told, U.S.-based legal education—particularly in one of the LL.M. programs specifically addressing legal issues in the developing world—can be an effective strategy for promoting the rule of law, one with a comparatively high return on investment. In order to leverage such initiatives for maximum impact, however, implementers need to be responsive to these various factors likely to affect the outcomes.
  • LL.M.,
  • international,
  • post-conflict,
  • rule of law,
  • development,
  • developing world
Publication Date
Citation Information
David Pimentel, Legal Education as a Rule of Law Strategy: Problems and Opportunities with U.S.-based Programs 22 U.C. Davis J. Int'l L. & Pol'y ___ (2015)