The American and Caribbean Law Initiative (“ACLI”) is a collaborative project of Caribbean and United States law schools. The participating institutions are Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica, Eugene Dupuch Law School in the Bahamas, Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and the Faculty of Law at the University of West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. In the United States, the participating law schools are Florida International University College of Law; Florida Coastal University School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida; Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.; Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport, Florida; and Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall Law School in Houston, Texas. Its mission is to advance the common interest of its members in the growth and development of the Caribbean Basin by facilitating collaborative relationships and by strengthening its legal development and institutions.
While the ACLI is taking steps to achieve all of these goals, the main component of the ACLI is presently the American and Caribbean Law Clinic (“ACLC”). The Caribbean Law Clinic offers law students the unique opportunity to work collaboratively on legal issues referred by the attorney generals and other government officials of Jamaica, Trinidad and the Bahamas. Legal issues furnished by the attorneys general in the Caribbean are sent from local law schools to faculty members in other participating institutions. Law students from the participating institutions then conduct research and prepare memoranda for Caribbean governments on those legal issues. In the past, students have worked closely with the Jamaican Attorney General’s office and Norman Manley Law School. As a result, ACLC students have presented their research and written memoranda several times at meetings with the Attorney General’s office in Kingston, Jamaica. In 2002, the ACLC, with the assistance of Eugene DuPuch Law School, began the same arrangement with the Bahamian Attorney General’s office. In 2003 and 2004, the ACLC was held in Trinidad under the auspices of Hugh Wooding Law School and in coordination with the Solicitor General’s Office in Trinidad and Tobago. Most recently in 2013 the program had its meeting in the Bahamas.
The ACLC provides a valuable opportunity for law students to develop international and transnational legal research and writing skills necessary for legal analysis of current issues within the Caribbean legal system. The ACLC allows students to apply their abstract legal knowledge to examine real problems facing the Caribbean in such areas as constitutional law, international law, administrative law, contracts, criminal law, family law, environmental law, civil rights, human rights, labor law, international trade, international business transactions, corporate law, internet and e-commerce law, intellectual property, European Union law, patient rights and privatization.
Students learn the practical application of comparative legal analysis while becoming conversant with regional and transnational legal materials. These capabilities will enable students to broaden their legal skills to address international and transnational legal topics. In this manner, ACLC benefits students at the participating institutions by providing an intense learning environment in which significant demands are made on the students’ commitment, creativity, intelligence and time. Accordingly, ACLC provides students with practical experience in legal research, legal writing, informal advocacy, decision-making, oral argument, institutional analysis, and teamwork.
Additionally, faculty members work with the students, supervise the students’ tasks, and offer advice and assistance as needed. Throughout the ACLC, the faculty member works closely with each student to prepare each of the assigned tasks and, in particular, to identify any contingencies and to prepare for and anticipate a range of options. At the end of the ACLC, the faculty member assists each student in reviewing his or her efforts in the ACLC to identify successful practices and to evaluate unsuccessful aspects of the student’s performance.
Students’ fieldwork experiences are supplemented with seminar-style discussions. The ACLC’s seminar-style discussions cover the course reading as well as the research, writing, and questions of substantive law that have arisen in the students’ cases or on insights into the judicial process and legal institutions that students have gained as a result of their fieldwork experiences. The precise content of the seminar varies at each institution. In the participating American law schools, the assigned reading materials focus on the Caribbean generally, including topics such as constitutions, historical and cultural background of Caribbean legal traditions, legal education, legal profession, government and court structures, sources of law, and judicial review. Additionally, reading material at the American law schools currently has an emphasis on the laws and legal environment of Jamaica, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago.
For additional information, please write Professor Phyllis Kotey at email@example.com.