Keynote Address at the Seventh Worldwide Conference of the Global Alliance for Justice Education Held at Jindal Global Law School, Sonepat, India on December 10, 2013

Published date01 July 2014
Date01 July 2014
Subject MatterCommentary
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Global Thr
Commentar asa-Mullah Complex
Keynote Address at the Seventh
Asian Journal of Legal Education
1(2) 147–151
Worldwide Conference of the
© 2014 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
Global Alliance for Justice Education
SAGE Publications
Los Angeles, London,
Held at Jindal Global Law School,
New Delhi, Singapore,
Washington DC
Sonepat, India on December 10, 2013
DOI: 10.1177/2322005814530333
N.R. Madhava Menon
As I stand before you to give the keynote on promoting justice education worldwide, my thoughts go
back to the closing years of the last century at a conference of the American Association of Law
Schools in Florida, USA where some of the law teachers assembled including me, Frank Bloch, Clark
Cunningham and few others, asked ourselves certain basic questions on what we are doing: Why do
we teach law? What are the objects of legal education? What is the mission of a law school? How
relevant is legal education? Is legal education intended to be a mere private good, training people for
legal practice?
We could not gather clear answers and we kept on continuing to ask these questions through corre-
spondence, e-mails and phone calls and exchanged notes on innovative courses and methods we were
using to make legal education serve the larger concerns of social justice. Several years passed by and we
met again in 1999 to look at the larger picture of what we are doing and more particularly at the social
mission of legal education. We met in India in a city called Trivandrum where I live, a city 2,000 miles
away from here at the southern tip of the Indian sub-continent. We had law teachers from 26 countries at
Trivandrum, all of us self-styled clinicians. At the end of our week-long deliberations, we resolved to
establish an association of clinical law teachers and named it as Global Alliance for Justice Education
(GAJE). Thus GAJE was born in India, 15 years ago.
Even after 15 years, and growing ourselves and finding allies of thousands of law teachers across
the globe, we are still groping to construct the social mission of legal education as a public good. We do
not accept any more that the object of legal education, like business education is just a private good or
training to practise law. We recognize the social mission of the law school. We understand that while
clinical education is about training in skills of advocacy, it does bring law closer to life and helps raise
concerns on justice in the minds of the learner which provides great potential to explore law–justice
relationships as well as law as a tool of social engineering.
Today, this is the theme which engages the attention of world leaders. Last month at a law conference
at the World Bank (November, 2013), a book titled, ‘Fostering Development through Opportunity,
Inclusion and Equity’ was released in Washington, DC. It contains reports from several countries across
the world on how the use of legal and justice systems maximizes development outcomes. It argues that
the improvement of justice systems promotes poverty reduction and economic development. Legal
empowerment can promote greater equity in the distribution and enjoyment of public goods. Writing in
N.R. Madhava Menon, Former...

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