The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) announced a five-year, $7.2 million grant to Stanford Law School to expand an innovative legal education program in Afghanistan on September 24. The Afghanistan Legal Education Project (ALEP) will build on its existing partnership American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) to develop a full, five-year integrated Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degree program at AUAF’s campus in Kabul, Afghanistan. This new degree program trains Afghan students to become professional lawyers who can provide much-needed legal representation services, help enforce Afghanistan’s constitution, help stabilize the country through rule of law, and become legal educators to teach Afghanistan’s next generation of lawyers.
The new degree-granting program is the latest in a series of efforts by Stanford Law School faculty and students to enhance legal education in Afghanistan. They launched ALEP in 2007 as a project to develop legal textbooks for AUAF. In 2010, INL partnered with Stanford to support the project. Most recently, Stanford and AUAF developed a certificate in Legal Studies, available as a supplemental credential to AUAF graduates who complete seven law courses. The first certificates were awarded last spring and the program is popular with students. This semester, ALEP classes have more than 260 students registered, and approximately 20 percent are female.
The new bachelor degree program will build on this existing certificate program. ALEP will continue to use and develop textbooks written by Stanford Law students and rigorously vetted by Stanford faculty, AUAF law faculty, and senior judges, officials, and lawyers in Afghanistan. The curriculum will emphasize practical skills, professional responsibility, and substantive instruction in criminal, commercial, comparative, Islamic, and international law. A number of courses will be practice-oriented and geared to experiential learning.
Law is an undergraduate discipline in Afghanistan; students will first enroll in two years of AUAF’s general liberal arts education, followed by three years of legal studies instruction. The first class of this new law degree-granting program will graduate in 2015.