Greetings from Doha! Over the past four days, I have had the privilege of visiting with the Dean and faculty of Qatar University College of Law to discuss Best Practices. The Dean of the College, Dr. Hassan Okour, has embraced Best Practices for Legal Education as well as the work done by the Carnegie Foundation in Educating Lawyers (Professor Judith Wegner will also visit, in May). The Qatar college of law has adopted a strategic plan which addresses learning outcomes and teaching methods. They have introduced multiple methods of assessment and new teaching methods.
Traditionally, Qatar and other law schools in the region have emphasized the lecture method and in observing classes I noted that their dynamic, energetic and passionate approach is worthy of emulation by those of us in “the states.” Students actively call out answers in a sort of call and response manner. Despite this established traditon, the faculty have begun to introduce and experiment with less traditional methods and to extend additional energy in ensuring that their students maximize their potential to develop critical thinking skills during law school.
Concerns raised by faculty members are remarkably similar to questions raised by faculty in the U.S.:
Won’t course coverage be sacrificed in introducing small group work or simulations?
Why must we emphasize practice skills if not all of our grads will practice law?
And just like in the U.S., other faculty members report better student engagement and increased student motivation when using more active learning methods. Meanwhile, the University is focused on graduating Qatari law students prepared for the responsibilities of the new millenium.
And while female applicants to law school are decreasing in the US, in Qatar, where women stay close to home during their undergrad years, the college of law is 75% female. It has been tremendously exciting to see the work being done to better train this new generation of law students!
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