Clinical Legal Education and Islamic Law in Commonwealth Jurisdictions: Prospects for Nigeria

Paper presented at the 2013 CLEA Conference in Durban

Abdullahi Saliu Ishola
Kwara State University, Malete, Nigeria

The Nigerian legal system represents a typical mixed legal system where Common Law, Customary Law and Islamic Law interact and co-exist. However, the legal education in the country is essentially designed to cater for the training of Common law lawyers. Similarly, Clinical Legal Education (CLE), which is now widely accepted in the country, with fifteen Legal Clinics on the campuses of various Universities and the Nigerian Law School, is also designed mainly for common law students. Since 1999, Islamic law has been undergoing revival in some states in the Northern part of the country and the lawyer that would be relevant in those states must be practically equipped in the workings, law and practice of Islamic law. In addition, Islamic financial system which has become a global phenomenon of relevance has also been embraced in the country and the lawyer would need to be trained in the operation of the new financial system. Also, Shariah Courts and Muslims in the country inevitably require the services of Islamic law (Shari’ah) lawyers to meet up with their legal needs, such as in matters of contracts; distribution of estates; matrimonial causes; banking transactions; legal representation; etc. Interestingly, there are foundations for the CLE scheme in the classical Islamic law. The scheme can thus be reorganised to meet the challenges. This paper therefore looks into the prospects for CLE in a mixed legal system operating in Nigeria and sets out to show that CLE is also relevant to Islamic law in the country. The paper also presents a prototype curriculum that may be adopted for Islamic CLE in a typical mixed legal system of Nigeria and concludes that, in a mixed legal system in Commonwealth jurisdictions like Nigeria, CLE also relevant in training for Islamic law.

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