Law School to Offer First U.S. Graduate Law Program in Middle East
With classes scheduled to start in January 2008, IU School of Law-Indianapolis will become the first and only U.S. law school to offer a graduate law degree program in the Middle East.
The U.S. law school, located in downtown Indianapolis, Ind., will offer its master’s degree track in International and Comparative Law at two law schools in Egypt: the Faculty of Law at Alexandria University and the Faculty of Law at Cairo University.
As part of its initiative to help Egypt modernize its economy and its legal system, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded the Indiana law school a three-year, $6.7 million grant to operate the U.S. Master of Laws (LL.M.) Program in Egypt.
"This is a groundbreaking collaboration between an American law school and two of the leading law schools in the Middle East," says program director and IU School of Law-Indianapolis Professor Frank Emmert.
IU School of Law-Indianapolis was unique in its bid for the USAID grant, said Emmert, who is also executive director of the Center for International and Comparative Law at the Indianapolis law school. "We plan to develop essentially an island of excellence in these universities. And we know we will learn as much from our Egyptian partners as they will from us."
The U.S. Master of Laws Program will target graduates of the four-year bachelor of laws programs at the two Egyptian universities, along with practicing attorneys and judges in Egypt. The program is planned to open with 25 students at each of two locations in Egypt in January, but will later come under a 70-student cap. "In order to maintain a high quality program with an interactive and intense format, we will need to limit enrollment," Emmert said. Graduates of the program are anticipated to play a significant role in on-going efforts to improve Egypt's economy and legal system.
USAID is working with Egyptian officials to help “re-write” or modernize that country’s legislation and government policies with a view toward the business sector, according to Emmert. To do so, the country needs lawyers who are qualified to handle international business transactions, modern corporate laws and commercial transactions.
Gary Roberts, Dean of the IU School of Law – Indianapolis says, "Through this program, the IU Indianapolis law school will play a central role in building bridges between the Middle East and the U.S. as our graduates become legal, political, and business leaders in Egypt and other countries around the Middle East, a region of the world that has become of critical importance to the United States."
In anticipation of the January opening, Emmert, USAID officials and administrators from Cairo and Alexandria universities met in Egypt recently to sign documents establishing the partnerships for the law degree program.
[News coverage of the signing ceremony appeared on Nile TV in Egypt]