The Role of Law Schools in Educating Judges to Increase Access to Justice
53 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2020 Last revised: 31 May 2022
Date Written: November 5, 2011
Through a cross-cultural look at the issue, with contributions from professors and lawyers in India, Nigeria and the United States, this article examines the role of judges as public citizens creating access to justice and, in particular, the roles that law schools play in educating judges to better perform their crucial role. Its genesis was a panel presentation at The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) conference on Teaching in a Transformative Era: The Law School of the Future, held on December 10-11, 2010 at the University of Hawai’i. The article begins with a description of the Nigerian experience and the role of the Judicial Academy. The second section considers India, with a discussion of judicial training and judicial education. Section 3 looks briefly at the process of becoming a judge in civil law countries, and then addresses some failings with American law school training. The fourth section discusses the importance of providing social justice, community lawyering, and clinical experiences in the law school setting. The final section gives an insider’s look at judicial training and experience in the United States.
Many of the institutional processes are different, but there are also certain commonalities. In some places, individuals can become judges directly following the completion of law school. In other jurisdictions, the process is lengthier and may take many years and require much experience as a practicing lawyer. Other differences include the process of choosing judges by examination, by election or by appointment. The systems commonalities allow us to use the different experiences to shed light on the problem. In most places, law schools pay scant attention to what it means to be a judge and how judges work in the courtroom, even though judges are the most important functionaries in the court process, as they have the power to make the final decision.
Keywords: Judicial training, judicial education, judicial perspective on access to justice, cross-border pathways to judiciary
JEL Classification: K19, K39, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation