Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Guest blogger Rob Hudson on teaching American-style legal skills to law students in Qatar

Please welcome our guest blogger Professor Rob Hudson, a stateside law librarian who recently took a position teaching legal skills at Qatar University in the Middle East. Rob's going to be writing a series of posts describing his experiences teaching legal skills at a foreign law school which is modeling itself based on American law school accreditation standards.  As you may know, the ABA has considered licensing foreign law schools (here and here) which would allow the graduates of those schools to take American bar exams thus making it easier for foreign trained lawyers to represent their clients in this country.

Below is Rob's first report describing several programs the school has started - including legal clinics, moot court, legal research and writing courses, and even a law review - that will allow its students to compete with American trained lawyers in a global marketplace.  (Japan is another country, among others, that has recently reformed its law schools to offer the kind of practical skills training that is characteristic of American legal education).

In a few posts I would like to describe my experiences as a new law lecturer and law librarian at the College of Law at Qatar University.  I spent 10 years as an academic law librarian in the US and took my family to the Middle East in August 2011 for a law librarian adventure abroad extraordinaire. 

To add some context Qatar is the located on the Gulf next to Saudi Arabia and between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar University was founded in the 1970s and the College of Law split from the College of Sharia to become two separate faculties within Qatar University just over five years ago. More than 50% of the law school courses are in English. The College of Law adopted an ambitious strategic plan to become the premier law school in the region benchmarked against International accreditation standards including ABA and SACS . Incidentally, ABA standards are entirely self-imposed and partially supported by ABA grants.

The resulting effort in incorporating legal skills at the College of Law includes for the first time advocacy, client and case management, moot court, clinic, a center for legal writing and research, a forum on energy and environmental law, instructional technology, and the first International Review of Law at Qatar University.  Four North American law professors joined the College last year, including myself.

The challenge for me is to give the students key legal skills when English is a second or third language for most of them. As a specific example, last month I was teaching how to find cases by key words in a Utah database on Westlaw International using an Arabic-English law dictionary to students that do not customarily bring laptops into the classroom. All the female students wear black and all the male students wear white and very few faces are visible from the lectern. I’ll see if I made any impact when the open memos are submitted next week!

I’ll post about teaching in law school, living in Qatar, and building a law library collection.

Some of my experiences are included on the Qatar University Law Librarian blog  @ http://qatarlawlibrarian.blogspot.com/

Dr. Rob Hudson

Lecturer/Law Librarian

Qatar University, College of Law

PO Box 2713

Doha, Oatar





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