In Summary
  • Legal education, court systems and lawyering need to change their approach and practice.
  • Lawyers keep adjourning cases and delaying justice for their own personal benefit, teachers teach young lawyers how to do it, and judiciaries bow to it, in passivity, because the process would seem to be more important than justice itself.
  • Legal education worldwide rides on an antiquated education system. Studying law should be one of the most exciting adventures in life.
  • We need to rethink our university education model. Our disjointed legal education will not thrive within a mediocre university system.

In 1882, Thomas Alba Edison changed the course of humanity by illuminating the first 85 households in the world. Edison Illuminating Company had built the world’s first power plant, a direct current (DC) generating plant at the Pearl Street Station in New York.

Almost at the same time, Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-born inventor and futurist, came up with the first designs of an Alternating Current (AC) power supply. Mr Tesla was not interested in money; he was neither a businessman nor an investor, just an inventor with a passion for changing the world…making it a better place.

Mr Tesla sold most of his patents to George Westinghouse, an American engineer and businessman, who made the most out of them. Mr Westinghouse launched the first AC power supply to Manhattan.

This triggered the “War of the Currents”, which saw Mr Edison compete furiously for the prominence of DC against AC. A few years later, Mr Edison’s finances were exhausted and his company eventually merged with the competition.

This brought the war of the currents to an end, and eventually, the world of darkness was overpowered by light. There was no turning back to candles and gas …within a few years the world was, literally, electrified.

Last week, I penned off my column by asking a rhetorical question: What needs to change in our justice system? Almost everything; we need a system overhaul. The court systems, lawyers’ approach to practice, procedural law and legal education. But as the saying goes ‘Rome was not built in a day’…so this will take years. We must start now.

Justice was the word of the year 2018

Sam Muller, a Dutch lawyer, friend and innovative justice expert, brought to my attention a beautiful discovery. Mr Muller says that “The Washington Post reported on December 19 that justice was the word of the year 2018, based on data about searches on the online dictionary Merriam-Webster. Interesting. It seems there was a constant need for this word.”

Mr Muller concludes that “a movement is under way. No, not populism or Islamic extremism. A movement to get justice systems to produce better value.

To be more precise: to get ministries of justice, bar associations, universities – the threesome that have held the legal services marketplace in their hands for too long – to let go and innovate. The objective: to create a movement of funders and doers that will ensure that we realize Sustainable Development Target 16.3: equal access to justice for all.”

Mr Muller is right. Legal education, court systems and lawyering need to change their approach and practice. We have held justice hostage for too long.

Lawyers keep adjourning cases and delaying justice for their own personal benefit, teachers teach young lawyers how to do it, and judiciaries bow to it, in passivity, because the process would seem to be more important than justice itself.

2019 could be the year of light for justice. If we really want, we will find the ‘M-Pesa’ of justice, the ‘Uber’ of new generation justice systems.

Life has changed; university education has not!

The late Fulton Sheen rightly defined education as “the flow of information from the notes of the professor to the notebook of the student without passing through the brain of either.”

Life has changed; university education has not! The university model must change. Today, university’s outdated model is choking innovation.

Universities are organised in rigid faculties or schools that ‘own’ their students, who must follow a rigid curriculum taught by boring lecturers, who dictate old notes to many people at once and then examine their retention capacity at the end of the semester.

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