Law Schools in the United States Focuses more on Practical Work

    May 1, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

    A law professor from Iraqi-Kurdistan recently had a chance to tour some of the top law schools in the United States. The visits were part of a program at Syracuse University in New York. The Civic Education and Leadership Fellows Program, or CELF is founded by the State Department.

    Academics in the social sciences from the Middle East and North Africa spent a few months at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse. The academic program offers course work and individual development of projects to help deepen understanding of democracy and democratic reform. The program at Syracuse is aimed at encouraging greater involvement in Civic life.

    Nasser khalil Al-Assaf is an associate professor in the College of Law and Politics at Salahaddin University in Arbil. While visiting the law schools, he said he was impressed by the amount of educational materials available to students.

    "When I visited the Yale Law School, which is one of the biggest law schools in USA. One of the professors took me to the library, and show me the library in this school, which is more than 7 floors, and contain more than one million books."

    During the visits, professor Al-Assaf also observed Legal Clinics, in which law students work with people who need legal aid. Some legal education experts would like to see law schools in the United States increase practical work experience like this for their students. The professor says law education in Iraq focuses more on reading and theory than on practical work.

    "After my visits to the more than ten best law schools in USA, I observed that these schools focus on practical subjects through Legal Clinics. The clinics in USA law schools make the students more qualified and make them ready to practise  law when they gradute from law schools."

    He said Iraqi law students often face difficulties when they graduate, because they lack practical experience. He noted a big difference between reading the law and practising it.

    At Syracuse, Nasser khalil Al-Assaf said he has developed new ideas about legal education. He created the project forum when he returns home. He wants to create a bridge between the law school and the local community in Kurdistan. The project calls for students and professors to volunteer in the community.

    He said he wants to adopt the example of law students working in Legal Clinics, that way he says, poor people can get legal help, at the same time, students get more chances to practise being a lawyer.

    And that‘s the Education Report from VOA Learning English, I’m Christopher Cruise.