A Plan for Strategic Development, Fundraising and Conference Planning

Proposal for a new initiative

At the fourth worldwide GAJE meeting in 2006, held in Cordoba, Argentina, the membership directed the Steering Committee to expand GAJE activities beyond its existing successes in facilitating the exchange of information and informal collaboration by adding strategic initiatives to support and sustain the work of GAJE members to promote justice education in their own countries. In response the Steering Committee has strengthened the organization’s operational capacity by giving greater authority to an expanded Executive Committee, by appointing a General Secretary, and by drawing on the GAJE membership to form working groups that have examined issues of legal structure and strategic development.

Among the reports of those working groups was a proposal for a Justice Education Initiative (JEI) to support the efforts of legal educators, community workers, students, lawyers, judges and civic leaders around the world to create and sustain legal education programs that promote justice.  The proposed JEI was discussed at the fifth worldwide meeting in 2008 but has not been implemented.  Justice education initiatives will be one of the thematic streams at the sixth worldwide meeting that will be held in Valencia, Spain, in July 2010.

The proposed JEI is a three year project. Its goal is to develop accessible and practical resources for use in producing lawyers who are both competent and committed to work for justice in every setting where lawyers are found. The central strategy to achieve this goal is to focus on the institutions and processes that prepare persons to be lawyers, judges and legally-trained civic leaders and public officials. Underpinning this strategy is the recognition that law students and lawyers in training can themselves be valuable workers for justice during their time of preparation. In addition, law schools and other programs to prepare students for legal careers can also be resource centers for education of the community, for support of efforts by non-governmental organizations, for development of public policy, for law reform, and for continuing education of lawyers, judges, and public officials. GAJE will particularly encourage legal education institutions to partner with organizations that are based in and serve communities in particular need of justice education.

There is currently very strong international interest among educators, professional bodies, government policy makers and major foundations in reforming legal education to make it more socially relevant and to produce lawyers with stronger commitments to professional responsibility and public service. The GAJE Steering Committee is confident that implementation of the JEI will support and strengthen GAJE’s capacity to provide broad-ranging support of the many aspects of justice education that are beyond the process of lawyer preparation that is the focus of the JEI.

Proposed Implementation of the Justice Education Initiative

Year One: July 2008 – June 2009

At the 5th Worldwide GAJE Conference to be held in the Philippines in December 2008, a broadly representative gathering from around the world will:

  • Write a definition of justice education that can be interpreted for use in the design of academic, professional and community legal training programs.
  • Examine and document examples of existing practices and/or case studies of legal training programs from around the world that encompass and promote justice education.
  • Present, expand and “test drive” sample web-based materials that can be used to support justice-focused legal education such as methods for teaching justice education across a law school curriculum, materials for student exercises, legal literacy projects, guidelines for partnership with community-based organizations, procedures for clinical and community service educational programs, sample readings and syllabi for courses, research and scholarship on justice education. multimedia resources, and distance learning methodologies.

Year Two: July 2009 – June 2010

Launch a web site to support justice-focused legal education that includes a data base of

  • institutions and organizations that support and exemplify justice education,
  • model programmes of justice-focused legal education,
  • experienced trainers in justice education methods,
  • examples of new and innovative curriculum or program development.

Year Three: July 2010 – June 2011

  • Evaluate and update web site.
  • Facilitate international collaboration around justice education, such as exchange programs involving staff and students, guest presenters and course and curriculum sharing.
  • At the 6th Worldwide GAJE Conference to be held in 2010 receive and review report on lawyer preparation or other legal training programmes around the world that have, since December 2008, introduced changes to their curriculums specifically to support and promote justice education.