Illustration by Shenuka Corea
The approval progress of the Legal Studies major is almost complete, according to Professor John Coughlin, Global Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Law and the head of the Legal Studies Program at NYU Abu Dhabi.
“We gave the Government of the UAE [the] completed proposal over a year ago. First, it went to the Abu Dhabi Education Council and they did an external review. That went well. Since February, the proposal has been with the Commission for Academic Accreditation. We got the report from the CAA recently — a very positive one,” said Coughlin.
The major should, therefore, be in place for the next academic year. There are members of the Class of 2019 who completed the requirements and could graduate with a degree in Legal Studies. The degree, however, is not a substitution for a Bachelor of Law, or a Juris Doctor; it is a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies. While students can’t practice law after completing their degree, there are a variety of career paths open to them; they can venture into government work, diplomacy or the private sector.
“It’s like any other major; it’s intellectually stimulating. You’re looking at the nature of things. We’re talking about the nature of law, critical thinking, textual interpretation, law in a global context, ethics, business. I think this exploration is valuable in itself, apart from being attractive to employers,” reassured Coughlin.
Coughlin said that the major is intended to be flexible so that the students could double major. Raeesa Omar, Class of 2020, plans on majoring in both Legal Studies and Psychology.
“I had solely planned to major in Psychology, and I could never choose between both [of] these passions, so I opted to do both. More than that, I think most, if not all Legal Studies majors are planning to double major, as the Legal Studies program is not finalized as [of] yet,” wrote Omar to The Gazelle.
The Legal Studies minor is already approved and running. Ervin Smajič, Class of 2021, decided to combine this minor with his major in Economics.
“I firmly believe that law is a central subject in the world of business and finance. Therefore, a knowledge of legal rules and setting is usually very helpful in navigating through the business world. In addition to that, I believe that a minor in Legal Studies can provide me with a completely new way of reasoning and could help me gain a set of skills that are useful in all careers [like] ethics, reading comprehension and public speaking,” explained Smajič.
Coughlin spoke about the benefits of a global education in the field of law.
“Globalization is only increasing and law is going to reflect that. My vision is that eventually we would become a major academic legal center in the Middle East. I think that the Middle East and the Islamic tradition have so much to offer to the discussion about law in general,” concluded Coughlin.
Kristina Stanković is Editor-in-chief. Email her at [email protected]