HBKU College of Law: The road to the future
November 30 2020 02:38 PM
TRAILBLAZER: HBKU College of Law is a trailblazer as from inception it recognised that legal educati
TRAILBLAZER: HBKU College of Law is a trailblazer as from inception it recognised that legal education involves more than understanding the law; instead, it requires the student to apply legal principles to complex factual situations, according to Dr Susan Karamanian.

By Dr Susan L Karamanian

HBKU’s College of Law is committed to providing learning experiences that traverse civil, common and Shari’a law. How do you plan to achieve this across the academic year 2021 to 2022?
Our outstanding faculty is critical to the college’s overall learning experience. Faculty members were educated at some of the world’s most prominent universities, such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Virginia, and Texas. Each brings to the classroom a comparative dimension, recognising that the law shares certain substantive principles, regardless of its source. Yet there are distinct differences. Our students understand these differences in the context of specific problems and apply them to produce sustainable and generally acceptable solutions.   

Developing academic programmes that balance three different legal systems must be challenging. How does your college achieve this balancing act without compromising the consistency and quality of its programme offerings?
Being true to our comparative approach is very challenging, yet it is something we take seriously given the influence of the common law, civil law and Shariah in Qatar. Although substantial learning occurs within the classroom, structured to address the various sources, it also occurs in our many colloquia, workshops, and lectures, in which experts from any of the three disciplines shed light on subjects not typically covered in the curriculum.  

From contract disputes to bankruptcies and more, Covid-19 has presented numerous legal challenges and dilemmas over the past year or so. Will this be reflected in your programme offerings?
The legal implications of Covid-19 are immense. For example, new laws impose criminal sanctions for failing to wear a mask or not complying with quarantine standards. Another example is data privacy issues arising from contact tracing. The virus has raised key legal issues relating to building safety and medical care. Furthermore, courts have fundamentally changed given the shut-down and the subsequent need for social distancing. Our existing courses, such as torts, constitutional law, criminal law, administrative law, civil procedure, and healthcare law, are suited to address the many new challenges arising from the virus.    

How do you gauge the local, regional and global job market for legal professionals, and especially HBKU College of Law graduates, over the years ahead?  
We are pleased that HBKU’s College of Law Juris Doctor (JD) graduates have landed important legal or law-related jobs in Qatar’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, and in business-oriented sectors, such as in Qatar Petroleum, Siemens, and the Qatar Financial Centre. 
An important development over the past year is that the bar authorities in New York and Canada have made it possible for our JD graduates to become licenced lawyers in those jurisdictions similar to graduates of other major foreign law schools. The students will need to take additional steps, such as for New York obtaining an LL.M. degree in the United States or in Canada, taking specific courses or examinations.  
This is an important development as is the fact that our Qatari graduates have a path within Qatar to become licensed lawyers here. Further, although we are just five years old, our graduates have gone on to pursue LL.M. degrees at Harvard Law School, New York University School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, and the Graduate Institute of Geneva. This is a remarkable accomplishment and reflects positively on the high quality of HBKU’s College of Law programme and our immensely talented students.    

HBKU College of Law was the first in the Mena region to offer the Juris Doctor programme. Do you see the college as being a trailblazer for the region, and perhaps even internationally in future?
HBKU College of Law is definitely a trailblazer as from inception it recognised that legal education involves more than understanding the law; instead, it requires the student to apply legal principles to complex factual situations. For instance, a student with a BSc in Computer Science is equipped to better understand legal principles relating to artificial intelligence. HBKU’s College of Law joins leading law faculties outside of the United States such as the University of Melbourne Law School and National University of Singapore Faculty of Law, in offering the JD degree. We are proud to be in this company. 

*  Dr Susan L Karamanian is Dean of College of Law, Hamad Bin Khalifa University.

About Hamad Bin Khalifa University
Innovating Today, Shaping Tomorrow

Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), was founded in 2010 as a research-intensive university that acts as a catalyst for transformative change in Qatar and the region while having global impact. Located in Education City, HBKU is committed to building and cultivating human capacity through an enriching academic experience, innovative ecosystem, and unique partnerships. HBKU delivers multidisciplinary undergraduate and graduate programmes through its colleges, and provides opportunities for research and scholarship through its institutes and centres. For more information about HBKU, visit www.hbku.edu.qa.

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