The ‘rule of law’ remains an elusive commodity in Afghanistan. Securing a stable Afghanistan underpinned by the rule of law has proven exceedingly difficult despite widespread consensus in the international community regarding its fundamental importance. There is broad recognition that structural flaws in the Afghan justice system and legal profession undermine access to justice and democratic governance.

Lawyers are indispensable to consolidating the rule of law; they draft laws, administer justice, shape government policy, and inculcate respect for individual rights. Yet, nobody, including the Afghan government, knows how lawyers practice in Afghanistan. Even less has been written about the process of educating Afghan lawyers even though a country’s system of legal education has an undeniable impact on its legal system. Lawyers’ education, especially in developing or transitional countries like Afghanistan, impacts how they ‘practice their profession, both in private and government roles.’

Legal education also promotes scholarship and practical expertise among a diverse range of government officials. Legal education is, thus, essential to the rule of law. This article provides an overview of the Afghan legal education by weaving together the scant existing literature and complementing it with several interviews with Afghan law professors to illuminate important historical and recent trends. It also begins to gather the baseline information urgently needed to better inform international efforts to promote the rule of law through assistance to the Afghan legal education system.

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Geoffrey Swenson, London School of Economics & Eli Sugarman, Independent