Studying Law: PROLAW – Program for Lawyers in Development

by Brenda Anugwom

In today’s world, more than 4 billion people have no access to the rule of law. Several economies in transition are faced with this challenge due to weak governance structure and poor institutional capacity. This is the reason why the Loyola University Chicago launched the Rule of Law for Development Program (PROLAW), a new practice oriented LL.M degree program for all lawyers working in the development sector.

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The rule of law as a principle was popularized by A.V. Dicey in the 19th century. It proposes that the idea that law is based on fundamental principles which can be discovered, but which cannot be created through an act of will. An important aspect of this principle is that authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedural steps that are referred to as due process.

The PROLAW program is taught at Loyola University Chicago, John Felice Rome Center for all law graduates, lawyers, judges, legal advisers and solicitors who wish to be involved in the change revolution around the world, bringing rule of law to the doorsteps of all. In 2011, the first 25 professionals were admitted to the Rome center to take part in this program. These professionals came from Australia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Liberia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, The Kingdom of Tonga, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, the United States of America and Zimbabwe.

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The program is targeted at holders of law degree from anywhere in the world. It aims at preparing its graduates to be effective rule of law advisors on both cross-border and domestic legal reform initiatives. The PROLAW program aims at improving the quality and sustainability of ongoing and future rule of law initiatives all around the world. Its curriculum focuses on the skills and knowledge which legal professionals need to have when advising on rule of law issues. Lawyers are generally trained and prepared for the complexities of advising domestically, usually in specific practice areas within their jurisdictions. However, PROLAW trains lawyers for advising domestically and across borders on matters relating to legal and institutional reforms.

Having benefited from this very important program, my work in the development sector has become more meaningful to me and I have come to appreciate what the legal profession has got to offer in international development. I now understand how to manage project, conduct assessments for social, institutional and economic reforms, and the workings of various agencies in international co-operation.

As PROLAW continues to train lawyers from all parts of the globe, the closer the world gets to sustainable development, justice and peace. This is a starting point for any lawyer preparing to venture into the field of development to make a change and I strongly recommend that governments get involved in this movement for a better world for the generations to come.

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