Law Dean Participates in a Legal Ethics Conference in New York

Law Dean Participates in a Legal Ethics Conference in New York


Dr. Mutaz Qafisheh, Dean of Hebron University (HU) College of Law and Political Science and Associate Professor of International Law, participated in the Legal Ethics Conference VII that was organized by Fordham University Law School in New York. The conference included 85 parallel sessions, incorporating 240 speakers from 59 countries representing all continents. The panelists addressed various issues relating to legal profession, including teaching legal ethics at law schools and for lawyers and judges, clinical legal education, comparative ethical regulations, legal profession ethics in the Arab world, and international and comparative ethical standards.
 
Dean Qafisheh presented a paper entitled "A Century of Legal Profession in Palestine: Legal Ethics and Beyond", as part of a panel on Legal Ethics in the Arab World. This paper argued that the current system governing legal profession in Palestine today cannot be properly applied without analyzing its historical context and exploring the regulation of the lawyers' profession over the past century. It focused on legislative framework, qualifications for law practice, the apprenticeship system, and the institutions that administrate the profession. It elaborates on the ethics that lawyers should adhere to, particularly under the present regulation of the profession in the West Bank and Gaza. The paper did not only rely on legislation that govern the law profession (statutes, regulations, and instructions), but also on practice as manifested in judicial precedents and a series of interviews conducted with practitioners.
 
The paper concluded that the main challenge encountered by the law profession in Palestine throughout its hundred-year history is the division over political lines. The split started with the establishment of Palestinian Jewish and Arab bar associations under British rule before 1948. The division took another form of separation between Palestinian lawyers in the West Bank, Gaza, and inside Israel between 1948 and 1967. Under Israeli occupation, lawyers were partitioned into three factions: striking lawyers affiliating with the Jordanian Bar Association, practicing lawyers who formed the Arab Lawyers Union, and the Gaza lawyers who founded the Lawyers Society. Together these three bodies formed the transitional council of a Palestinian Bar in 1997. Since 2003 Bar election, lawyers have been unified under the "Palestinian Bar Association", which has become a well-established body, notwithstanding all challenges facing not only the law profession but also the country as a whole.
 
During his stay in the United States, Qafisheh met the director and staff of Scholars at Risk (SAR) at New York University, briefed SAR on the challenges facing academic freedoms in Palestine and the envisioned activities to be carried out by HU Academic Freedoms Clinic, particularly upon the recent admission of Hebron University to SAR's membership as the first higher education institution in Palestine.