Friday, December 18, 2009
Scholarship alert: "A countervailing elite: the necessity of an effective lawyering skills pedagogy for a sustainable rule of law revival in East Africa"
[T]he lawyer in East Africa has to be much more than a competent legal technician. With the coming of independence, the manifold problems that beset developing countries have to be faced, and in doing this great changes will have to be made in the framework of society. Lawyers have a vital part to play in these developments, for upon them will fall a major share of the work of putting into practice the principles and ideas of their colleagues in the fields of politics, economics and science, and ensuring that the resultant system works fairly and efficiently. Legal education must take account of these facts, and see that students are made aware of and prepared for their future role.
Legal Education for East African lawyers must therefore entail more than the accumulation of knowledge about the rules of law-to know much law is not necessarily to be a good lawyer, although it is the foundation upon which most legal education must rest. The good lawyer is the one who knows something of the society in which the law operates and the processes by which the law may change and be changed by that society. Thus we teach the law as it exists in East Africa today, but we do not stop there; we use this law as a firm base upon which future developments may be considered. In this way we hope to be able to produce lawyers who will have thoroughly mastered the techniques of the law; how to search out all the relevant authorities on a particular point and marshall them into coherent form; how to read a case in order to [*54] understand it fully; how to analyse and interpret a statute; and how to put across one's point of view in speech and writing. But over and above all this, they will have studied the law against the social and economic background of the East African jurisdictions, and will be in a good position to offer useful contributions to discussion on the problems of the law that ought to be in East Africa. 1
In 1970, one East African law school laid out a bold and ambitious agenda for legal education in East Africa, one equal to the enormity of the demands of the day. The question thirty-nine years later is: to what extent has that agenda been met, that promise been fulfilled? The following article attempts to answer and offers solutions to the challenges that remain arising out of the best practices of the pedagogy of lawyering skills and the scholarship of teaching and learning as it applies to legal education. The focus of this article is on the Anglophone nations of East Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, although reference will be made to other African nations, in particular Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa, where experiences are illustrative for this article's purposes. This is due to some commonalities among the legal cultures of these countries, as well as to the fact that these nations sent delegates to the March 2007 Conference on Legal Writing Pedagogy for East Africa, an event at which this author presented and gathered qualitative data from East African law instructors, which deeply inspired and informed this article.
This article is meant to be of interest to African legal educators, Western law professors interested in teaching in Africa, and any student or critic of the law and development movement or indeed of American and international legal education.
Part II of this article reviews the history of legal education in East Africa. Part III discusses the law and development movement in Africa and the role of legal education in it. Part IV lays out the major critiques leveled at the law and development movement in the 1970s. Part V discusses the resurrection of the movement in the early 1990s and explores the role that an effective lawyering skills pedagogy can play in that revival. Part VI reviews the status of this pedagogy in East Africa and the challenges its law schools encounter in this regard. Part VII draws on the scholarship of teaching and learning to posit possible solutions for the unique problems facing the implementation of lawyering skills in the East African law school classroom. Finally, Part VIII looks forward to the blossoming of a lawyering [*55] skills pedagogy in this region of the world and opines about its impact on the welfare of the region.
I am the scholarship dude.