Loyola University Chicago


Course Descriptions


History, Theory and Practice of Law for Development (3 credits)

This course provides an overview of the main intellectual foundations supporting the view that law and development are linked.  While this connection may appear obvious, the course seeks to show that the relationship may not be as straightforward as first impressions might lead one to believe.  Indeed, proponents of the presumed relation between law and development must confront two important distinctions well known to social scientists:  causation versus correlation.  Evidence that societies, which have achieved high levels of development, typically have good legal systems is incontrovertible.  What is less clear is how they got where they are and in what sequence.  Put differently, do good laws and institutions generate good development outcomes or does development lead to good laws and institutions?

The course applies interdisciplinary and comparative research in history, economics, sociology, political science, regulatory theory, and philosophy to questions of law and the development of legal institutions and does not assume any prior knowledge in any field outside of law.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course the students will be able to (1) identify and describe the various theoretical perspectives applicable to law and development; (2) articulate and distinguish between the development of law, state institutions, the economy, and society; and (3) postulate a conceptual framework or theory of change which can inform the determination of the optimum sequencing of legal reform for development in a given setting. 


Comparative and Ethical Lawyering for the Rule of Law (3 credits)

This course will develop the students’ key knowledge and skills required to provide advice and assistance in a country with a culture and a legal tradition different from the culture and legal system in which students received their legal education. The course will examine and compare the main elements of particular relevance to rule of law assistance work in major world legal traditions: Common law, Continental civil law, Islamic, Customary and Mixed legal traditions. It will also explore how the force of their normativity is effectively applied and institutional frameworks dealing with normative regimes overlap. The course will provide practical examples of cross-system rule of law assistance. Students will get acquainted with the three-pronged approach (norms, organization, society) developed and implemented by A. Cordahi in the field. Attention is devoted to issues of comparison and globalization. Among the topics covered are: constitutionalism, comparative private law, comparative administrative law, development finance and public expenditure. Case studies and role plays illustrate empirically some of the particular problems. Finally, the course will encourage students to consider the ethical dimension of cross-system advising in settings whose culture differ from the advisor's.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course the students will be able to (1) describe and provide practical advice on the principal features of Common law, Continental law, Islamic and Customary legal cultures; (2) describe the differences in problem solving and disposition of matters relating to at least three areas of law relevant to rule of law advising; (3) describe typical institutional organization adopted by countries to implement each of the above legal traditions; (4) describe and implement approaches and methodologies for handling given legal system and cultural differences, legal borrowings and transfers, legal pluralism; and (4) propose a conceptual framework for dealing with the challenges of advising in a setting in which some ethical values are applied that may differ from those of the advisor.


Thesis Research and Writing on the Rule of Law (3 credits)

This course is designed to assist students in developing the techniques of scholarly legal research and writing in relation to rule of law development. The methods and skills that will occupy this course are designed to achieve two objectives. The primary objective is that students will be able to apply scholarly research and writing skills which will help them conduct in depth research on their thesis topics and to develop a proposal for writing the LL.M. thesis. A secondary purpose is that students will acquire writing and research skills that can also be used in practice involving policy and legal advice. In keeping with the focus on development issues, substantial emphasis in the course will be made on socio-legal and empirical legal research methodologies.

This course is also designed as a foundation for PLAW 251: Rule of Law Thesis Supervision and Completion which prepares students to work with their individual thesis supervisor while preparing the thesis paper.  In addition to preparing students to be able to write scholarly legal prose on law and development topics, the course will help students develop methods for ensuring that all of their writing reflects specific consideration of key issues such as:  target audience, appropriate research methodologies required to support writing on specific topics, and documentation of sources.  Students will have an opportunity to develop their skills in these areas through short writing assignments and online class discussions. The professor will provide students comprehensive feedback on the submissions required under these assignments, on their basic research and on the development of their thesis proposals.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course,   the students will be able to describe and undertake the organization and drafting of legal scholarship relating to law and development, devise research strategies, employ different methodologies, and write clear scholarly prose.


Theory and Practice of Assessments in Rule of Law Advising (3 credits)

This course will provide students with the knowledge and skills required to undertake assessments, the crucial lynchpin which supports the design of specific policies, legal and regulatory reforms and administrative actions. The philosophy in the course is that developing a clear understanding of problems facing a society is fundamental to good governance and the rule of law. The course assumes that such understanding can be facilitated through professionally prepared assessments which provide the background, key information, insights and alternatives for remedial action which decision makers need in order to develop policies, laws and regulations and administrative actions which really address the problems at hand.  Good assessments provide the platform for informed debate and decision-making.

The course will relate closely to the course Design of Rule of Law Programs and Proposal Preparation as assessment forms the foundation of all well-conceived initiatives aimed at improving specific problems in the legal and justice sector in any country.  The course also relates closely to the courses on Comparative and Ethical Lawyering for the Rule of Law insofar as assessments will require analysis and description of the state of the target country’s legal system, the functioning of law-related institutions including the courts, the financing of the legal system, and issues related to the basic value systems of the jurisdictions concerned.  The course also complements the course on International Development Architecture as provides the students with the tools needed to take advantage of the innovations and learning developed by the international community over the past four decades.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course the students will be able to (1) draft a terms of reference for the conduct of a legal assessment in a given country and area of the legal system; (2) advise on the most appropriate approaches and methodologies required for assessments in given sectors; (3) identify and use relevant best practice guidelines and documented experience for assessments in given sectors and subjects  (4) perform desk top research to identify the main features of the legal framework relevant to a given problem area; (5) use available statistical and other data o  to develop a hypothetical data-driven policy; (6) draft a terms of reference for a survey related to the assessment which contains the standards and techniques under which the survey will be conducted and (7) undertake a complete desktop assessment which is organized in accordance with best practice,  includes a clear and convincing analysis of a given situation in a given country and actionable options for relevant decision makers.


International Development Architecture (3 credits)

This course will prepare students to provide development law advice (or advice that is legal in nature and is intended to advance international development objectives) by clarifying the workings of the architecture of international development. It will examine how different international actors (public and private), and different mechanisms for governing economic relationships between developed and developing countries can influence domestic legal and policy reform. The course will consider Rule of Law (RoL) programming as one mechanism amongst others that lawyers can use in pursuing international development objectives.

The course will begin with a review of the approaches development law matters by the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions, international financial institutions, and the WTO. In doing so, it will explore the role and operational realities of such organizations within the international development architecture. The course will then open the investigation beyond development-oriented public international organizations to include the private (corporate and non-profit) sector, in order to further examine how development finance can influence domestic legal and regulatory landscapes.

The course will expose students to a broad range of legal and non-legal primary materials (e.g. project agreements, supporting design documents, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, Millennium Challenges compacts, etc.). It will highlight the central role that these documents can play in determining national development priorities. It will also highlight the importance of the design of the international development architecture for channeling funds to and between developing countries.  Throughout the course, the following questions will be asked: Where do the rules that affect developing countries’ legislative, regulatory, and policy frameworks (supporting e.g. health, trade, and microfinance) come from? Through what processes do they become integrated into domestic legal landscapes? How directly or indirectly do these rules affect domestic structures? Across the development architecture, how explicit is the use of law for achieving international development goals? What role is there for lawyers within these rule-making / rule-influencing systems?

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course the students will be able to (1) compare and contrast the key features and working modalities of the international financial institutions, the United Nations system, and bilateral donors and describe how such bodies affect and address development law issues; (2) advise on the legal framework applicable to a program financed by a given donor in a given country and offer opinions on the rules applicable to a given problem, such as creating a market for a public good or service; (3) advise on how the institutional and legal framework applicable to a given situation in a given country will affect the way in which development law advisory work can be undertaken; (4) suggest alternatives for development law-related initiatives in a given country, which meet the objectives of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness; (5) summarize objectives of a given country’s PRSP, which can be supported through development law assistance.


Advising for Economic, Social and Institutional Reform (2 credits)

This course will provide the students with a survey of the substantive areas most frequently dealt with in rule of law initiatives, the key issues present in each area and tested strategies for encouraging reform and building capacity in each area.  The course will group the substantive areas into three categories and explore the main issues and reform strategies for each.  In this regard, the course will first explore issues related to the development of the legal framework for investment, international trade and intellectual property and the capacity to structure, manage, govern and negotiate in these areas. 

Second, the course will examine how rule of law initiatives deal with social development issues.  This will include an examination of how rule of law initiatives approach issues such as human rights, gender equity, trafficking of people,  environment, health and legal empowerment of the poor. 

Thirdly, the course will examine how rule of law initiatives are undertaken to improve the institutional framework for justice and governance.  This will include examination of how rule of law can be promoted through the promotion of democracy, including promotion and strengthening of common democratic features such free elections, separation and distribution of powers, the functioning of parliaments and other representative bodies, the strengthening and independence of the judiciary, improvement of judicial practice and the administration of justice, access to justice, the control of corruption, strengthening of public procurement, the establishment or improvements of constitutions.  Case studies will be used to illustrate the key issues faced and strategies adopted in each area explored.

The emphasis will be on strategies which have been adopted in various rule of law initiatives and the lessons which can be drawn from these.

Finally, the last modules of the course will provide, through examples relating to the above three areas, solid basic knowledge of Monitoring and Evaluation strategies and techniques and best practices on modalities to cooperate with donors.

In particular, in selected topical area we will review evaluations of real projects or relevant evaluation and monitoring guidance materials in the specific subject being dealt with in a given class in order to 1) develop your ability to advise on monitoring and rigorous evaluation of rule of law initiatives and 2) to develop your ability to advise on the design and implement reform initiatives which will help your  ”clients” take advantage of what has worked well in the past and avoid or minimize the weaknesses and mistakes of prior efforts. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course the students will be able to describe the most frequent areas and themes dealt with in rule of law initiatives, describe the main issues which are involved in each area and provide specific examples of strategies which have been adopted in rule of law initiatives for dealing with those issues and the evaluated results achieved through the employment of such strategies.


Rule of Law Project Management (2 credits)

The course will cover the main principles, methodologies and tools in managing rule of law projects, and examine specifically whether there is anything special that differentiates the management of rule of law projects from other types of development projects. The course will look at how to handle the sometimes conflicting pressures from outside (e.g., donor priorities, partners’ capacity) as well as inside the implementing organization (financial constraints, business development considerations). It will cover the main tasks involved in managing a project, including recruitment, human resource management, procurement, inventory, budgeting, pipeline analysis, reporting, monitoring and evaluation, and of course, technical implementation. The course will address the main steps in the project cycle that relate to implementation, including start up, option year extensions, and close out, management from the home office as well as in the field, and touch on issues of using sub-contractors or sub-grants programs. The course will also cover challenges arising in project management, such as how to handle implementation of a project with weak design or insufficient budget and what to do when the desires of recipient country partners conflict with the project as conceived and agreed with the donor.

To the extent possible in a classroom setting, the course is intended to simulate real-world conditions under which rule of law assistance projects are conceived and documented.  As a result, particular attention must be paid to deadlines set by the instructor for the submission of all written assignments.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course the students will be able to draft the required documentation and tools necessary to implement and manage a rule of law project. The student will become familiar with how to determine which documents and tools are appropriate, will learn how documentation generated in the program design stage are used during program implementation and become comfortable in their use.  Students will be able to:

  • Identify the main principles and goals of effective project management;
  • Outline potential differences in management considerations between different types of international development projects (e.g., differences in subject matters, contract types, countries, donors);
  • Demonstrate ability to identify and use key project management tools;
  • Describe the steps involved in executing the main management tasks in development projects, including recruitment, procurement, budgeting, reporting, and technical implementation;
  • Discuss the main steps in the project cycle and the important considerations at each step;
  • Articulate the different issues arising with respect to home office management versus field management;
  • Understand the special considerations involved in managing projects with grants programs or subcontractors;
  • List common and less common project management challenges and express and evaluate options for handling them;
  • Use the principles and practices of project management to produce one or more “project deliverables.” 


Design of Rule of Law Programs and Proposal Preparation (3 credits)

This course will improve the understanding and skills of students in the area of project design and the preparation of proposals related to rule of law assistance. Accordingly, the course will develop the students’ skills in undertaking the principle steps in the design process. Building on the course on needs assessments the course will begin with effective needs and problem analysis and then analyze the process of identification of goals, objectives and activities; project inputs and expected  outputs,  selection  of  appropriate  project  partners;  the  identification  of  performance  indicators,  design  of  a monitoring and evaluation plan, design and structuring of a proposal; prospective donor identification and the designing a plan for project management and reporting. The course will include instruction and practice in the building of logical project frameworks,  the  principal  analytic  tool  used  for  project  design  in  the  international  development  community,  the establishment of the credentials of the proposer to undertake the project and the design and preparation of a proposal for a project in a given jurisdiction.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course the students will be able to design a rule of law project and prepare a complete proposal for a rule of law assistance project in a given jurisdiction including the following: an original legal assessment, a project logical framework, detailed descriptions of project objectives, the project inputs and expected outcomes, the rational for the choice of the identified inputs and a description of how they will bring about the change sought, performance indicators, a management and reporting plan, a monitoring and evaluation plan, a description of the qualifications of the proposer to undertake the project and a budget. 


Rule of Law Thesis Supervision and Completion (3 credits)

Each student shall prepare a thesis paper on the topic identified in the thesis proposal developed in PLAW 250: Thesis Research and Writing on the Rule of Law.  Each student shall be assigned a thesis supervisor.  The thesis supervisor will serve as a mentor and authoritative guide to the student supervised and will (a) critique the thesis topic and proposal to ensure that it is sufficiently ambitious to warrant awarding three credit-hours of study; (b) have, in accordance with a schedule agreed with the supervised student several face to face or on-line meetings that allow for substantial interaction and discussion on the thesis proposal; (c) provide feedback on research methodology and counsel the student on areas within the topic on which the quality of the research can be improved or the breath or depth of the research can be extended;  and (d) carefully review and provide feedback on the proposal, subsequent drafts of the thesis, and the completed thesis.  The thesis shall be submitted in final form by July 31 each academic year and in accordance with the PROLAW Thesis Guidelines.

Rule of Law in Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (2 credits)

Strong rule of law is essential to both conflict prevention and post-conflict recovery.  The lack of effective legal institutions to uphold human rights, support political inclusion, and provide access to mechanisms for redress when rights are violated create conditions in which conflict may arise.  After conflict, failure to achieve just terms or reconcile opposing factions in peace agreements may only replicate those conditions, thus increasing the likelihood of a return to conflict.

The cessation of conflict poses further challenges to building the rule of law.  State institutions are often fragile.  Human capacity within the host nation is often severely constrained.  Efforts to rebuild states after conflict are often carried out under the auspices of multilateral interim administrations or as part of military operations.  A diverse set of development actors will likely be involved and international frameworks for Security Sector Reform (SSR) may be applied, with rule of law development included as a component of SSR.  These factors, combined with ongoing insecurity, create unique challenges for post conflict rule of law development.

This course will explore the relationship between rule of law development and conflict.  It will analyze the legal and developmental aspects of conflict prevention, near term stabilization, and long term institutional recovery.  The course will examine how breakdowns in legal and governance institutions, and particularly those that lead to the denial of human rights, inequality before the law, lack of due process, and the inability of citizens to access credible, accountable justice mechanisms, often create conditions for conflict. 

The course will also look at the ways unaccountable and ineffective law enforcement institutions may contribute to conflict.  In many cases these actors are complicit with or responsible for violence themselves.  In other cases, their lack of competence impedes states’ ability to prevent violence from occurring and escalating, slows the road to reintegration, and fuels criminality and ongoing insecurity.  The course will introduce students to demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration (DDR) of former belligerents, and how, if connected to rule of law development, DDR can become important elements of peace building.

The course will also explore the impact of legacies of injustice, including mass violence, and survey options and approaches to transitional and restorative justice as ways of creating the conditions for lasting peace. An important theme of the course is the role of multiple stakeholders in achieving lasting peace.  Conflict often has numerous causes and its avoidance or cessation must be brought about by broad segments of society.

Students will be called upon to apply skills they have already learned, such as assessment, advising and mentoring, and program design, implementation, and oversight.  Students will be required to adapt these skills to various pre- and post-conflict scenarios. They will learn how to identify both opportunities and risks, and be called upon to develop engagement strategies and adaptive programming to meet the unique requirements of the conflict environment.

Learning Outcomes

The learning objectives of this course are to (1) Articulate the origins of violent conflict, particularly the role of human rights violations, political repression, and denial of justice in creating conditions for conflict (2) Articulate the distinctive challenges that arise when restoring or strengthening the rule of law under conditions of instability and post-conflict recovery (3) Articulate the commonalities and differences in the development frameworks that are being applied by international institutions and states for institution building in conflict and instability, and the relationship between those frameworks, and rule of law development (4) Articulate the distinctive challenge in achieving national ownership in fragile and post-conflict states (5) Recognize and anticipate the importance of corruption, illicit power structures for security and development operations, and the risks they create for the rule of law (6) Devise and apply strategies for effective international and inter-organizational engagement and cooperation for rule of law and governance development in conflict prevention, reducing instability, and peacebuilding.

Rule of Law Thesis Supervision and Completion (3 credits)

Each student shall prepare a thesis paper on the topic identified in the thesis proposal developed in PLAW 250: Thesis Research and Writing on the Rule of Law.  Each student shall be assigned a thesis supervisor.  The thesis supervisor will serve as a mentor and authoritative guide to the student supervised and will (a) critique the thesis topic and proposal to ensure that it is sufficiently ambitious to warrant awarding three credit-hours of study; (b) have, in accordance with a schedule agreed with the supervised student several face to face or on-line meetings that allow for substantial interaction and discussion on the thesis proposal; (c) provide feedback on research methodology and counsel the student on areas within the topic on which the quality of the research can be improved or the breath or depth of the research can be extended;  and (d) carefully review and provide feedback on the proposal, subsequent drafts of the thesis, and the completed thesis. The thesis shall be submitted in final form by July 31 each academic year and in accordance with the PROLAW Thesis Guidelines.

Video and New Media Production for Rule of Law and Development (3 credits or elective)

This course is directed at rule of law students, advisors and professionals. The course combines theory and hands-on introduction to writing, directing and editing videos and new media products for supporting legal research, promotion and marketing of legal case studies, advocacy and the promotion of social justice through legal and institutional reform. This course will be taught by two professors who will cover all aspects of video and new media production and distribution relevant to rule of law. Students will participate in the development, writing, production, direction and post-production of a short video or multimedia project. The class has no pre-requisites besides the desire to acquire media and communication skills able to support the development of rule of law. This course introduces students to the technical, conceptual and aesthetic skills involved in video production through the single camera mode of production. Still the most dominant mode of video production, the single camera mode emphasizes using the camera to fullest capacity of artistic expression. In addition to the multiple skills and concepts involved with the camera, the course also introduces students to the principles of lighting, audio recording and mixing, and non-linear digital video editing. Special focus is given to producing content for legal presentations, conferences and the web.

Course Objectives

This course will teach students how to communicate ideas, concepts, stories and case studies involved in rule of law development using the technique of video making while providing them with an overview of the potential of crossmedia and transmedia communication. Students will work in teams as a production unit to produce a short video for advocacy, awareness raising, field research, courtroom presentations, and web communication campaigns. 

Learning Outcomes

During the course, students will understand how short videos or multimedia projects are made from conception through distribution, and will know how to develop a product for maximum audio-visual impact in relation to rule of law development.  Students will gain an understanding and hands-on experience in all stages of video production: from writing, shooting, sound recording, editing and crafting text and special effects, with the goal of producing a polished audiovisual product.  Students will learn all the necessary skills to begin producing audiovisual work to integrate in the research and development of rule of law using new technologies of communication for maximum social impact.

Rule of Law Capstone Project (3 credits)

PROLAW MJ students are required to undertake a “Capstone Project” (Project) which will result in a work product which has real utility to a beneficiary of the project identified in advance of the Project by the student.   In order to provide a degree of similarity between Projects, each student shall be required to identify a development partner/beneficiary of the Project with which the student will agree on a specific situation or problem which the partner is facing which will be the focus of the student’s Project.  The student shall then undertake an assessment of that specific situation or problem in accordance with the methodologies and standards learned in the Program.  The assessment shall be a substantial document in line with the final assessment required in the course PLAW 103 and shall be reflect the results of relevant field research.  Such assessment shall include options for actions or initiatives which the partner can take to address the problem or situation.  Based upon the partner’s choice of one or more of the options, the student shall design a project for the partner which, if implemented successfully, would partially address the problem or situation identified.  The design of the project shall include a logical framework, a project narrative, a project timeline and a project budget.  Each Capstone Project will be supervised and assessed by a “Capstone Project Supervisor” engaged and appointed by the PROLAW program or a member of the PROLAW faculty in accordance with guidelines provided by the PROLAW Program Director.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the final Project, the students should be able to:

1) Design and implement a project which will have utility in their countries;

2) Demonstrate the effective use of information and the techniques, skills and tools practiced and developed in PROLAW relevant to project design and implementation; and

3) Demonstrate an ability to provide a written and oral report which synthesizes all elements of a project and includes a description of lessons learned from its implementation.

Legal Systems and Methods (3 credits)

The goal of the course is to provide non-lawyers with a framework for understanding the central features, branches and notions of law. After a general introduction on the sources of law in different legal traditions and on constitutional aspects, the course will examine the interaction between law, society and public policy. Emphasis will be placed upon the experience of law by "its professionals" (judges, attorneys at law, in-house lawyers, drafters of legislation, law enforcement agents...) as well as by rights holders and duty bearers, plaintiffs, defendants, the administration and ordinary citizens. A set of topics has been selected to understand legal relations and how rules are applied in: contract law, property law, legal liability and secured transactions. The course will also provide a comparative introduction to fundamental legal institutions and some effects of globalization on domestic legal systems. Students will use a small but key number of skills, methodologies and processes, in particular advising, negotiating and legal interpretation. Case studies and role playing will help students better understand issues associated with liberty, responsibility and sanctions. Throughout the course, the students will strengthen their legal reasoning and understanding of the rule of law.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course the students will become conversant in the legal terminology and be able to (1) describe fundamental sources, concepts and classifications of law; (2) demonstrate an understanding of the systemic functions of parliament, judges, lawyers, enforcement agents, the administration and citizens in law and justice; (3) apply legal principles to different scenarios; (4) address how the law develops in order to respond to changing social, political, technological and economic settings (5) develop the core legal skill of counseling in contract law situations.

Approach and structure

This course is designed for students who do not have law degrees or whose legal knowledge has been limited, because of their professional experience, to a specific area of the legal system. Each module is intended to foster analytical as well as practical skills and to deal with legal and interdisciplinary issues. The emphasis is on legal norms, capacities and interests. As no background in law is assumed, the course also combines insights from other disciplines, including political science and history. The first week introduces key sources, notions, professions and methods in the legal system. The second week focuses more on applying legal methods to specific issues and interests.  After a presentation and discussion of the topic, each module (or “class”) includes an interactive exercise. In a reflective learning approach, all these exercises are interlinked to build both a systemic and a detailed understanding of legal systems and methods.