Global law firm White & Case LLP and the Kingdom of Bhutan were highlighted today at the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting for their Commitment to Action to create Bhutan's first law school, the Royal Institute of Law, currently scheduled to break ground in early 2015.
Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck of Bhutan, president of the project, and Hugh Verrier, chairman of White & Case, were in attendance for the honor.
"We are proud to be a part of this journey with the Kingdom of Bhutan," said Hugh Verrier. "The Royal Institute of Law will train the first generation of lawyers and judges skilled in both international and Bhutanese law. It is very meaningful to know our efforts are helping create an institution that will play a central role in further strengthening democracy and the rule of law in Bhutan."
"Working with White & Case in this regard allows us to lay a path in place that over time will transform the legal profession in Bhutan," said Her Royal Highness. "It is with an immense amount of pride that we will be moving away from a system that is currently dominated by foreign-trained lawyers to one composed nearly entirely of our own law school graduates. This will have a great impact on meeting the needs and priorities within our society."
Specifically, White & Case is working with Her Royal Highness and members of a recently appointed Law Secretariat, education specialists, architects, a high-level royal advisory board and others, to:
Create the master project plan for the law school
Develop a curriculum that reflects Bhutanese legal traditions and international best practices
Attract world-class faculty and administrators
Prepare student recruiting materials and admissions procedures
Design the school's centers for advanced legal study and research
Draft the school's bylaws
Appeal to donors
The first class of students is expected to begin legal studies in the autumn of 2017.
White & Case has been working closely with Bhutan since 2009, when the Firm began its first pro bono engagement with the Kingdom: completing a comprehensive needs assessment on legal education at the request of the Royal Education Council of Bhutan. In July of 2011 the Firm supported the establishment of Bhutan’s first law library, located in the capital city of Thimphu, which offers access to legal reference databases that were previously unavailable in the country, as well as law books and other printed materials.
In the last decade, under the initiatives of His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Bhutan instituted sweeping legal, economic and political changes as it transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional democracy. Last year, Bhutan passed a major threshold in its democratic transition, with the country witnessing the peaceful transfer of power through elections from one political party to another.
White & Case is committed to pro bono and legal education globally, with lawyers at the Firm dedicating on average more than 80,000 hours of service annually. Promoting the rule of law and good sovereign governance is one of the strategic goals of the Firm's Global Pro Bono Practice, which includes numerous legal education programs ranging from significant support of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition to teaching legal ethics and providing training for judges and lawyers in Europe, Africa and Asia.
About the Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 2,900 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries.
CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.
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