Loyola University Chicago

Program in Rule of Law for Development (PROLAW)

School of Law

PROLAW Overview


Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s Program in Rule of Law for Development (PROLAW) works to support sustained progress towards rule of law in countries that are developing, in economic transition, or recovering from violent conflict. Its vision is a world in which all countries are governed under the rule of law that facilitates their pursuit of justice and sustainable development. PROLAW’s practice-oriented academic programs are focused on two degree tracks leading  to the Master of Laws (LLM) in Rule of Law for Development for students with law degrees and the Master of Jurisprudence (MJ) in Rule of Law for Development for students with degrees in other fields. To achieve our vision of rule of law-based societies, we seek to equip legal and development professionals with the knowledge and practical skills needed to inspire, lead and manage efforts to strengthen law and institutions to further national development.

Unique curriculum and experienced faculty

The PROLAW curricula is taught by practitioner-experts with deep multi-jurisdiction experience in supporting national initiatives aimed at improving the rule of law. They ensure that each student develops the mix of knowledge and skills required to do this kind of work. They lead skills-oriented courses through which the students become proficient in rule of law assessment methods, program design, program management, and development strategizing. They also help the students develop in-depth knowledge on how to provide actionable advice and guidance in such key areas as conflict prevention, peace building and anti-corruption, gender equity and environmental sustainability. PROLAW’s research focuses on the most effective approaches to improving rule of law which enriches the curriculum and builds the leadership capabilities of PROLAW graduates to undertake national, but globally informed and inspired initiatives aimed at improving the rule of law. To ensure the long term sustainability of these efforts, our practitioner-expert faculty mentor and assist students both during their studies and after graduation. PROLAW’s founding Director is William T. Loris, the former Director General and a co-founder of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO).

Rule of law thought leadership

PROLAW convenes conferences and holds seminars on current leading topics in rule of law, and PROLAW faculty are active in research and publication on international law and development issues. In addition, the PROLAW students produce an annual PROLAW Student Journal of Rule of Law for Development, which highlights cross-cutting rule of law development issues.

External recognition and support

PROLAW has been supported since its launch through strategic support and financial resources from a variety of key actors in the rule of law field including governments, foundations, international organizations and large corporations. Some of these partners are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United States Department of State, the African Union Commission, the Organization of American States, the World Bank, the Governments of Indonesia, Germany and Uganda, the Asia Foundation, the AT&T Corporation and Microsoft. As a founding member of the World Bank’s Global Forum on Law, Justice and Development, PROLAW was instrumental in establishing that national rule of law capacity and ownership would be included within the Forum’s four priority areas of concern.

Who attends PROLAW?

PROLAW students generally fall into the following categories:

  1. Lawyers and other professionals, including government officials and NGO specialists, who are committed to contributing to governance and rule of law reforms in their home countries or regions;
  2. Young professionals and recent law school graduates who desire international careers in the development of governance and the rule of law;
  3. Experienced legal and other professionals who wish to transition from practice to mentoring and advising the process of governance rule of law reform at home and abroad; and
  4. Academics wishing to teach rule of law subjects in their universities.

The PROLAW student body is truly multinational. The perspectives that student diversity brings to the classroom is a vital part of the PROLAW educational experience. PROLAW graduates go on to work in varied settings, including government, international organizations and peace-keeping missions, non-governmental organizations, academia, judiciary, legal practice and corporate positions.

How was PROLAW designed?

The first step in the design of PROLAW was to identify the foundational knowledge and skills which are involved in advisory and technical work related to the establishment, maintenance and continual improvement of the rule of law.  The curriculum was then developed to ensure that each element of the inventory of knowledge and skills was developed and practiced in one or more of the established courses. Those courses provide the theoretical basis upon which strengthening the rule of law is based and ensures the development by each student of the skills needed to put that theory into practice.  Each course is based upon a pre-announced set of student-centered learning outcomes or objectives which define in advance what each student should be able to do by the end of the course.

PROLAW has a substantial practice orientation, which is informed by theoretical perspectives.  The substance of the program is delivered through lectures, interactive discussions, group and individual exercises, assigned and self-directed research and writing, the contributions of eminent visiting lecturers, field trips and constant and close contact with the PROLAW faculty and staff.  The growing number of PROLAW alumni also support the student cohorts through mentoring, advice and occasional lectures.

How does PROLAW differ from other LLM and development study programs which include some treatment of the rule of law?

There are five features of PROLAW which distinguish it from other LLM and graduate international development study programs:

  • Developing the capacity for multidisciplinary rule of law and development work: PROLAW provides a unique opportunity for lawyers and other development professionals to study and learn how to work effectively together and to develop high levels of expertise in law and rule of law matters in the context of development;
  • Practice Orientation: PROLAW has a consistent practice orientation across the curriculum;
  • Focus on Sustainable Development: the focus in PROLAW on how to practically support the movement to sustainable development, including the Sustainable Development Goals, through improved rule of law;
  • Bringing Global Experience into the Classroom: PROLAW’s capacity to harness and make available to the students global experience in development and rule of law work  from PROLAW’s  international rule of law practitioner faculty and the richly documented experience of the international development community; and
  • Harnessing global experience to craft local solutions: PROLAW helps students strengthen the specific knowledge, skills and leadership capacities needed to provide context sensitive advice and services related to rule of law matters which respects local priorities and traditions but which is based upon worldwide experience and international standards.