Document Type



Prepared for a conference, "The Practice of Law & Development," at Cornell University, April 18-20, 2004. Draft only; not to be quoted or reproduced without the author’s permission.


Is there such a distinctive phenomenon in practice as "law and development?" Isn’t all law directed towards some kind of development in the sense that new law – judicial decisions, legislation, administrative directives – change the existing law and so is a development from that existing law and in changing the existing law, change, in howsoever slight a degree, the economy and society of which the law is a part. Law and Development did not start in the 1960s when American legal scholars discovered the developing world nor did it end in the 1970s when, starved of funds to pursue their endeavours, many of those same scholars declared that law and development was dead . If we are to write about the future of law and development we must first be clear about its scope, its past and its present. We must first answer the questions: What is it? What are we? Where are we? How did we get here? Only then can we answer the question: Where should we go?

Support for legal education is the one L&D input that brings together the external and the internal perspectives of L&D and the one such input that is highly unlikely to fail: in every society there are some lawyers who are concerned with justice, with freedoms and with advancing the rule of law. If it does nothing else as a community, the L&D community should make it its business to argue the case for support for legal education in the South and especially in ‘failed states’ so as to develop as rapidly as possible that critical mass of national legal skills and knowledge that is the only sure way to build up a national legal culture and so in turn create the undergirding for a legitimate, effective and just national legal system.

Date of Authorship for this Version

March 2004