The idea that law is more than just a profession is what has driven students to Regent University's School of Law for the last 25 years. It is also what inspires the school's faculty and administration to constantly work to improve the value of education students are receiving. This same idea recently sent Regent Law Dean Jeffrey Brauch and Associate Professor David Velloney to Uganda.
For several days in early March, the two visited and taught at Uganda Christian University (UCU), located about 15 miles from the country's capital city of Kampala. Their goal was to explore future partnership opportunities between Regent and the law program at UCU.
"I think we came away encouraged that we ought to have a summer exchange program," Brauch said after his return. "We've just been sensing God leading us as a school to do something to promote the rule of law in Africa."
The legal system in east African countries—including Uganda—is vastly different than the American system Regent Law students are familiar with. This means that an exchange would provide significant learning opportunities on both sides.
Interest in developing a relationship between the two schools—both Christian universities dedicated to training leaders for the marketplace—came when Velloney began corresponding with an American lawyer living in Uganda. The trip was planned, and Brauch and Velloney were able to see firsthand the quality of education and the opportunities available in Uganda.
"We look at UCU as a Christian university that's doing things extremely well in east Africa," Velloney explained. "It was very inspirational to interact with the students who want to live out their Christian faith. They want to see the rule of law followed in their country; they want to be lawyers with integrity."
The need for quality lawyers in Uganda is great. While the country has stabilized much in recent years, Brauch and Velloney explained, recovering in the aftermath of a tumultous past has been a challenge. One of the greatest legal challenges the country faces right now, in fact, is property disputes.
"They desperately need principled, accountable, Godly leaders for the next generation," Brauch said.
Regent Law's increasing emphasis on human rights and the rule of law culminated in the 2010 formation of the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law. The center, which is set to host the "Media and the Law" symposium March 29-31, places students in internships around the globe to gain firsthand legal experience working as human rights advocates.
Brauch sees a future exchange with UCU as a great asset to the center's efforts. "For those who are serious about human rights work, this would be a great program." Velloney added: "This is an opportunity for [students] to be globally involved in a part of the world many of them feel called to."
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