Legal education in transition: A study from Georgia

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The purpose of this paper is to provide an insight into the development of legal education in Georgia in its transition to becoming a democratic country. It is important to clarify at the outset that the emphasis here is on developing a viable structure and system for legal education as opposed to a theoretical basis for the development of a new legal order. Such a fundamental doctrinal exercise would form the academic and intellectual basis of an entirely different paper. In establishing a viable system of legal education, a significant challenge is to reconcile the education of professionals with the underlying difficulty arising where governments have sought to determine professional education from ideological positions. The Georgian government is producing reform proposals which have to be considered in terms of the most expedient processes for implementation. It is therefore necessary to develop reforms which construct a new framework to facilitate and promote the incorporation of aspects of legal education which hitherto have been unknown. Fundamental principles have to be determined such as recognition of the rule of law, as well as the knowledge and training best suited to developing a coherent and properly established legal profession. The whole reform process can be hindered without the presence of well-qualified professionals. It is therefore crucial to ensure the integrity of establishing this body of professionals who are well-placed to take reforms forward. There is of course the obvious paradox in terms of the country needing the best professionals whilst at the same time putting reforms in place to achieve that. There are great possibilities and Georgia is in the position of considering systems and structures which best suit its needs in establishing reform of the educational infrastructure in which professionals can develop. The paper identifies some key issues and themes which provide an insight into the possibilities. It focuses on three main areas: the changing nature of the constitution and the need for reform, the United Kingdom framework as a possible model for consideration in establishing a process of implementation, and aspirations for the future. It is self evident that Georgia is experiencing a period of significant development and change in terms of shaping a system for legal education which is significantly more advanced even now than when this work began. It continues to be in the process of being formed and there are many influences on its shape. The authors, having worked together, acknowledge there are limitations in terms of producing a fully comprehensive joint paper based on a period of such complex transition and change.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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