Nigeria’s certifying authority for law programs, the Council for Legal Education, had at a full Council meeting on Tuesday, June 28, ratified the decision of its Board of Studies to approve the School of Law at AUN. The AUN School of Law is the 4th school of the eleven-year-old development university – following the schools of Information Technology and Computing, Business and Entrepreneurship, and Arts and Sciences.
Before the Board’s approval, CLE had conducted a resource verification exercise on AUN’s state-of-the-art facilities, close on the heels of a similar exercise by the National Universities Commission which regulates university education in Nigeria.
AUN’s President, Dr. Margee Ensign, expressing the sentiments of the AUN community, said: “The American University of Nigeria is pleased and proud that the Council for Legal Education has approved the launch of our new School of Law. AUN, Africa’s first “Development University,” will bring an innovative and important dimension to legal education in Nigeria.”
Modelled on the American liberal arts tradition of a broad education and critical thinking, the AUN law courses reinforce the development philosophy of AUN and will be enriched by the University’s extensive international faculty. The law curriculum embraces humanitarian studies, gender, alternative dispute resolution, environmental law, HIV and the Law, Gender and Development, Energy and Natural Resources Law, and Technology and the Law, among its novel courses that distinguish AUN’s unique approach to legal education.
Dean of the AUN School of Law, Professor Oladejo Justus Olowu, who held top faculty positions in South African universities before coming to lead the AUN program, believes that positive change will be triggered in the nation’s legal education system.
“We went abroad and acquired comparative benefits in the study and applications of law, which is what we have all brought together in birthing the potpourri of multicultural ideas. There is no university in Nigeria that has a program on the intercourse between law and bioethics or biotechnology; we discovered this from the best practices around the world.”
AUN is going to produce a new generation of lawyers that will do the right thing, he said.
“Our own law graduates are going to be alternative dispute practitioners and comprehensive attorneys: arbitrators, conciliators, mediators, and negotiators. We are going to do things differently and innovatively. Nigerians will soon feel the impact of the first generation of lawyers to emerge from the AUN.
“You only hear lawyers speak about gender equality, but no lawyer in Nigeria went through a law program that has the gender content.” The AUN law program will be the first, he added, “…to develop a law program that is having law, society, and development as a module. You know that development discourses have been left to economists, development theorists, and policy analysts; it has never been a subject for schools of law in Nigeria.” Clearly, that is now going to change.