Illustration by Joaquín Kunkel

Legal Studies Surmounts Final Major Hurdle

After a multi-year process, legal studies has been formally approved as a major for NYUAD students.

Mar 4, 2018

In mid-February 2018, the Legal Studies Program was officially approved as a major at NYU Abu Dhabi and is now available for students. The major is intended for students who wish to understand law from an academic perspective and pursue law-related careers in government organizations, NGOs and private firms.
The administrative steps executed by NYU and the UAE Government took approximately three years to approve the program at NYUAD.
“We first carried [out] an internal approval. It was within NYU Abu Dhabi. Then, NYU New York had to approve. That happened almost two years ago, or maybe less, through Katherine Fleming, Provost in New York. We then started the process with the UAE Government which took around a year and a half. We had an external review by the Abu Dhabi Education Council. We got that a year ago. This past fall, we had another government agency, the Commission of Academic Accreditation, which made another external review. It was only two weeks ago that the major got approved. We did not really face a difficulty during the process,” said John Coughlin, Global Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Law as well as Program Head for Legal Studies.
During the approval process, evaluating parties expressed satisfaction with the quality of the NYUAD program and the variety of courses it will offer.
“Our external reviewers were highly positive and I personally asked them to speak to our students and professors as part of the process. The assessing professors were from all over the world and looked at our curriculum and syllabi very carefully,” said Coughlin.
“There are six required courses and four elective courses. The required [courses] are: What is Law, Legal Writing and Research, A Legal System and Method, Legal Institutions, Business Law and Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibilities. We also offer a range of electives in human rights law, law and technology, law and different political theories, introduction to Islamic law, law in literature…,” explained Coughlin.
The department expects that the number of course offerings will increase with time, depending on students’ need and interest in the program.
Meanwhile, professional opportunities seem to be promising for potential future graduates.
“There are many law firms in the UAE who are interested in hiring people who are graduating from NYUAD. The professionals were all keen as we were launching the program,” concluded Coughlin.
Students interested in law resonated the excitement about the new opportunity.
“It is a great opportunity to have a major related to a field I wanna get into in the future. I love how the major is very comprehensive and well tailored in terms of courses. I think that we can now study the basics of law but also the philosophy and history behind it. These aspects of the course will particularly provide me with a strong background for LSAT and law graduate schools later,” said Achrakat El Fitory, Class of 2021, who is majoring in Legal Studies and Philosophy.
Hind Ait Mout is News Editor. Email her at
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