Rule of Law Program 4

Rule of Law

The Rule of Law Program at Stanford Law School was established in 1999 with the goal of promoting policy-relevant scholarship on the rule of law in developing countries and creating opportunities for students to responsibly engage in applied development work.

Until 2007, the Program generated academic papers commissioned with international scholars and conducted associated workshops on rule of law. After 2007, the Program ran a number of projects in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Timor Leste, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Rwanda, providing Stanford JDs the opportunity to work on legal education and policy initiatives.

In AY 2015-16, the Rule of Law Program will scale back its project-focused work to focus on the Afghanistan Legal Education Project (ALEP). It will open opportunities for JD and non-JDs alike to take courses and pursue individualized applied research and fieldwork. Research will build on work and established relationships in Rwanda and Cambodia, among other countries.

Partnerships and Applied Legal Development Research

FAQs for Students

What do you mean by “rule of law”?
“Rule of law” is a complex and contested topic. The UN has defined it as a principle of governance, in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. The rule of law is said to, among other things, promote peace and development, prevent conflict, ensure social justice, advance human security, protect people from fear and want, and end hunger and poverty. The Rule of Law Program at Stanford Law School is devoted to promoting, researching, and contributing to rule of law development in countries where we have strong institutional partners and requests for assistance.
What are ways that students can get involved?
  • Seminar Course(s) and Individualized Research: JD, LLM, SPILS, and non-law graduate students can apply for consent to take the 3-credit State-Building and Rule of Law Seminar with Professor Erik Jensen in fall quarter. With consent, students may continue their research in Advanced Seminar in the winter or spring quarters. Those pursuing applied research projects may be eligible for fieldwork and logistical support from the Rule of Law Program. Researchers will meet regularly with Professor Jensen and each other to discuss their work. T
  • ALEP: JD students interested in Afghanistan, legal education development, and team project work can participate in the Afghanistan Legal Education Project (ALEP).
  • Externships and Summer Internships for JDs: JD students can apply for externships and summer internships the ROL Program advertises on behalf of partner institutions in Rwanda, Cambodia, and elsewhere.
  • Listerv: Sign up for the ROL Program listserv and stay apprised of on-campus talks, publications, and research opportunities.
Do you make exceptions and allow non-JDs to participate in ALEP?

Unfortunately, it is not possible given the way ALEP is structured.

If I’m a JD, can I still take a clinic if I take the State-Building Seminar and continue with Advanced State-Building?

Yes, you can still take a clinic in the winter or spring quarter. You cannot apply for a fall quarter clinic, but all clinics are offered at least two quarters per year.


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Funded by Diverse Public, Private, and Foundational Sources Including:

  • INL/State Department
  • The Asia Foundation
  • Hewlett Foundation
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Dean’s Office at Stanford Law School
  • Provost’s Office at Stanford University
  • Stanford Alumni
  • Other private gifts from philanthropists such as Dr. Frederik Paulson, CEO of Ferring Pharmaceuticals