30 July 2019

Law and ethics Africa teaching initiative

Global firm White & Case joined with law schools to run a week of legal ethics programs and events in Rwanda.

Including the launch of the fourth annual Legal Ethics Training Program, and held in Ghana since 2016, this year's program took place in Rwanda and included law students from 12 African countries.

Innovative format

The events were organized by the African Centre on Law & Ethics (ACLE), established in 2017 by White & Case, Fordham Law School and GIMPA Law School, to help facilitate a growing commitment to legal ethics through research, scholarship and training. The four-day interactive course covered the principles and rules central to professional legal practice - in Rwanda as well as other jurisdictions. The program's innovative format made use of practical exercises in small group sessions to discuss issues relating to the legal codes of ethics, regulation and enforcement, the relationship between attorneys and judges, confidentiality and avoiding conflicts of interest. Seventy-one law students, hailing from 12 African countries, participated in the program. Rwandan students were joined by law students from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The faculty included lawyers and professors from Rwanda, Ghana, Fordham Law School and White & Case partners Jennifer Paradise, Jacquelyn MacLennan and Claire Matheson Kirton, and Senior Manager of Global Citizenship Elizabeth Black. Ms MacLennan joined Chief Justice Sam Rugege of the Rwanda Supreme Court, Julien Gustave Kavaruganda, President of the Rwandan Bar Association, Dr. Fabien Hagenimana, Vice Chancellor, INES-Ruhengeri, and Kofi Abotsi, GIMPA Law Faculty, to provide remarks.

Instilling ethics

White & Case partner and general counsel, Jennifer Paradise, who helped design the program's curriculum, said, “Instilling a strong sense of legal ethics in the lawyers of the future could not be more important - in Rwanda or anywhere else. It is good to see the program move to a new region in Africa, teaching law students from 12 countries who will take this important information home with them as they begin their legal careers.” Interim director of the ACLE and clinical professor of law at Fordham Law School, Professor Paolo Galizzi recognized the essential role played by Dr. Fructuose Bigirimana of INES-Ruhengeri Law Faculty and White & Case in making the events possible. Professor Galizzi said, “we are proud of ACLE's programs and especially pleased to expand throughout Africa and work with more lawyers and law students on the critical issues of ethics and the role lawyers play in society.” The ACLE focuses on four areas of programming: conferences and symposia; law school curriculum modules on legal ethics; executive education for practicing lawyers and judges; and the Legal Ethics Training Program for law students.