PROLAW program trains students across the globe
Launched in 2011, Loyola’s internationally recognized Rule of Law for Development program, PROLAW, prepares professionals to advance the rule of law throughout society and across sectors, at home and abroad. Offered at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center in Italy, PROLAW offers Master of Laws (LLM) and Master of Jurisprudence (MJ) degrees. Here we talk with program founder and director William Loris and current MJ student Rachel Abrego about PROLAW and student life in Rome.
Director Loris, you’ve enjoyed a distinguished career as a leading advocate for rule of law in developing countries. What PROLAW accomplishments are you most proud of?
LORIS: Since the program’s inception eight years ago, we’ve graduated more than 165 outstanding practice-ready students from 55 countries throughout the world. Ninety-seven percent of our graduates are employed—nearly all in the field—and are enjoying rewarding careers working in government offices, policymaking bodies, global corporations, and intergovernmental organizations. It’s rewarding to watch our graduates flourish in their careers and make a difference in the world.
Abrego, why PROLAW?
ABREGO: I grew up in Bolivia and observed firsthand the effects of a weak rule of law. In my undergraduate studies at Indiana Wesleyan University, I read Rachel Kleinfeld’s book, Advancing the Rule of Law Abroad: Next Generation Reform, which further influenced my passion for pursuing a career in this field. After college, I worked with the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI) Latin America and Caribbean team and learned about PROLAW during my time there. This program is part of my career trajectory, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity.
What are the benefits of studying rule of law in Rome?
LORIS: Rome is an extraordinary city and it is one reason our program is so popular. Students also benefit from a rich learning experience because of PROLAW’s student diversity. Our program reflects the diverse individuals who are working in this field. Legal reform is not carried out just by lawyers—there are also leaders within different disciplines who must come together to effectively change a situation for the better.
ABREGO: The Rome location provides unique opportunities to network with rule of law professionals at development and humanitarian relief organizations. Living and studying in a different country, and being part of such a multicultural learning experience, has been transformational. Our classmates from Africa and Turkey have shared some interesting and complicated professional experiences. In one class, we discussed female genital mutilation, and an Indonesian classmate explained how culture adds to the complexity of the issue. Hearing diverse student perspectives on a variety of issues has been invaluable for me.
In what ways does the PROLAW program advance the University’s global Jesuit mission?
LORIS: PROLAW prepares students to practice the skills of conflict resolution and peace building; constitution making; and access to justice, economic development, and environmental justice. The program expands knowledge in the service of humanity throughout the interdependent developing and developed world.