At Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), the College of Law and Public Policy’s (CLPP) Legal Lab is bringing a nuanced perspective to understanding and studying law in the region, with emphasis on addressing legal challenges with empathy and innovation as fundamental principles. Legal Lab is a core requirement for CLPP’s Juris Doctor (JD) candidates, where students are encouraged to approach legal studies under the lens of creativity and human centricity. CLPP’s Legal Lab was even lauded and recognized for its innovative approach at the 12th Annual Global Legal Skills Conference in Mexico earlier this year.
Commenting on her experience with the Legal Lab, Asma Al Khulaifi, JD candidate at HBKU, said: “In order to shape the future of the legal industry, it’s important to recognize that new problems demand new solutions. The Legal Lab introduced us to this phenomenon by enabling us to research ways in which innovation can be brought to the world of law.”
At the Legal Lab, students from HBKU’s CLPP engage with prominent legal specialists across Qatar to research and identify current legal challenges. As future law experts, the students are encouraged to analyze different facets that form the legal framework in Qatar, using a myriad of theories, principles, and tactics. The lab’s methodology is focused on using a human-centric approach in dealing with legal issues, and devising creative solutions for today’s legal challenges.
Speaking about the Legal Lab’s unique approach, Asma Al Khulaifi said: “It was particularly interesting because the industry usually teaches lawyers to look in the past for precedent when defending their cases. The class, however, teaches us the exact opposite, asking us to use innovative techniques when brainstorming solutions.”
As part of Legal Lab, JD students work on out-of-the-box ideas with legal experts across various industries in Qatar. In a range of disciplines, from the environment and corporate law, to human rights and beyond, the students resort to problem-solving techniques, derived from an analysis of human impact, to better address the legal challenges the society faces today.
Ammar Saed Aldien, a student at HBKU’s CLPP, describes Legal Lab as an opportunity to “use creative thinking to develop an idea to change an aspect about the Qatari legal system, unlike other classes where we just analyzed a legal issue and dealt with cases critically without applying it outside of the class.”
Rebecca Schillings, an assistant professor at HBKU’s CLPP who presented Legal Lab at the 12th Annual Global Legal Skills Conference in Mexico, was recognized with an award by the academics and legal scholars in attendance for her work with the lab. Her presentation highlighted the importance of using a holistic approach to understand legal studies, and emphasized how it needs to be a core part of legal curricula globally.
She said: “Legal Lab at HBKU’s CLPP was developed as an attempt to engage students in experimentation and interactive prototyping in order to develop new approaches to the legal practice. I believe the ability to think about how the practice of law can be improved on a consistent basis is of utmost importance in today’s fast paced and changing world.”