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Prof. Paolo Galizzi
Clinical Associate Professor of Law
Director of Sustainable Development Legal Initiative

Alena Herklotz
Senior Fellow, Sustainable Development Legal Initiative
Executive Director, Summer Programs

THE PROMOTION OF DEVELOPMENT HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MAIN CONCERNS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY for the past sixty years. There is, however, wide-ranging debate on the success of the initiatives undertaken so far to promote development and poverty eradication.

While poverty rates have fallen worldwide, 50% of the global population still lives on less than $2/day, prompting critical questions about how best to continue positive trends in growth and poverty reduction. In particular, Africa has been and remains a special challenge and focus of the international community, with some of the widest disparities and most severe poverty in the world. 

Africa has the highest rates of extreme poverty worldwide, with 47% of its population currently earning less than $1.25 a day.  Health, education, nutrition, and protection of the environment are major challenges as well. In spite of massive foreign aid assistance and extensive development efforts since the mid-20th century, African governments and people continue to struggle.

This clinic, directed by Professor Paolo Galizzi, is designed to expose students to the realities and challenges of development work, and the role that lawyers can play in promoting sustainable growth and poverty alleviation.

Clinic Seminar

The seminar portion of the clinic introduces students to the law and theory of international development as well as such practical skills as project research and design, proposal drafting, and interview techniques. For the fieldwork component, participants are assigned to teams to research and design a concrete development project. 

The same course is taught simultaneously at partner law schools in Africa, and each team of Fordham Law students is partnered with a team of African law students to develop a project, with the opportunity to travel to Africa for one week mid-semester to meet their African teammates in person and take part in project planning/implementation on the ground.  Partnering with African law professors, non-governmental organizations, and government and private actors, the teams have the chance to apply what they have learned in seminar through their very own small-scale, sustainable project. 

To date, the clinic has focused its efforts primarily in Ghana, West Africa. Past and ongoing projects include:

• Women’s Inheritance Insecurity project - Organize rural workshops on women's inheritance rights, and free legal clinics for marriage registration, will drafting and dispute resolution services.

• Right to Health Project - Promote awareness of patients’ rights through educational workshops and publications, and a large-scale survey of patient experiences with existing complaint mechanisms in Ghana.

•Access to Justice Project - Interview remand prisoners, complete and register their files, and partner with judicial service to convene courts in prisons to release those whose rightful detention has expired.

• International Trade project - Publish trade manuals and handbooks and organize workshops and policy dialogues to promote understanding and implementation of US trade measures designed to increase access for African products .

• Religion, Culture and Human Rights project - Convene venues for traditional leaders, government officials and members of civil society to gather and discuss controversial traditional practices.

• Family Justice project - Research the needs of Ghanaian families, as well as best practices in the design and implementation of family justice centers, to prepare proposals for the creation of a pilot family justice center.

•Customary Law project - Publish online database of the decisions of the Courts of the Asantehene, the King of the Ashanti, one of the largest ethnic groups in Ghana. 

• LGBTI Rights project - Collaborate with African advocacy organizations and OHCHR to research and deliver trainings on the use of international and African regional human rights system to protect and promote LGBTI rights in sub-Saharan Africa.

• Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) project - Conduct ADR workshops for traditional chiefs and community leaders to build local capacity to conduct legally binding arbitrations.

• Legal Aid project - Create a pro bono clearinghouse for assignment of legal aid cases and prepare draft legislation to make the Legal Aid Board a constitutional body under Ghanaian law.

•Renewable Energy project - Research regulatory framework for independent power producers in Ghana on behalf of a U.S. benefit-corporation client seeking to invest in renewable energy pilot projects.

To learn more about the Clinic's past projects, please see the links on the Clinic's Leitner Center page.