Who Wants Law Schools?
Turki Al-Thunayan â€¢ Al-Watan
The need for the Kingdom to have law schools teaching the legal profession has become a pressing necessity. In the past law schools were luxuries, but it is no longer the case. With globalization now removing the barriers between countries and competition so fierce that only those coping with the new realities can expect to survive, the need to have law schools is greater than ever.
It is unfortunate that because we donâ€™t recognize it as a separate discipline, we refuse to teach law in our universities in specialized faculties and continue to treat it as if it were a plague.
This article–from the Arabic daily Al-Watan merits your attention.
The writer, without out spelling it out directly, notes that Saudi society is now faced with a contradiction of its own making: According to all legal precedent, the only law of Saudi arabia is religious law, the Shari’a. But Shari’a law is not capable of dealing with all legal issues anymore. As a result, “commercial law”, “labor law”, and several other constructs have appeared to deal with those issues not well-handled under Shari’a jurisprudence. As far as it goes, those work more-or-less adequately.
But the time has come–particularly with Saudi accession to the WTO on the horizon–for Saudis to be trained in Law (with a capital L). To publicly admit this, though, can be seen as a criticism of the Shari’a, something that is politically impossible.
The fact that Law is among the fields of study permitted under the new program offering scholarships for study in the US is telling. It may help to fill the gap until hard political decisions can be taken. This isn’t the first example of a government being caught between a rock and a hard place because of law, but it’s certainly an unusual one.