Legal Education Support Program
The University of Washington's Legal Education Support Program – Afghanistan (LESPA) is a collaborative effort of the United States Department of State (INL), the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education, and the Shari’a and Law and Political Science faculties of five Afghan public universities. It is implemented by the University of Washington School of Law and is currently funded into 2017.
Initiated in 2004 and previously known as the UW-Afghanistan Legal Educators Program (UW-ALEP), the program aims to strengthen legal institutions in Afghanistan by offering higher education opportunities to law professors and professionals who will become legal educators in the future. We have proudly partnered with twenty-six faculties at seventeen public universities in Afghanistan. Participant study takes place in Afghanistan and at the University of Washington in Seattle.
To date the program has given over 100 Afghan law professors and graduates the opportunity to study at UW. As of 2014, almost thirty program participants have successfully completed the LLM program. UW continues to develop innovative programming, including semi-annual Academic Legal English programs and embedded ESL programs at ten universities, in Afghanistan for over 500 professors and upper level students.
Since 2007, over 20 professors and recent graduates from Afghanistan have participated in the Law School’s Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic. Working directly with J.D. students on active cases under faculty supervision, participants have gained firsthand knowledge of tribal laws and the relationship of tribal courts to our state and federal court systems. LESPA participants also work closely with UW Law clinical faculty to gain an instructor’s perspective and learn how to run law school-based legal clinics that can be replicated in Afghanistan.
LESPA is staffed by Co-Director Professor Jon Eddy, Co-Director Alice Stokke, Project Administrator Sara Ayoubi, Project Assistant Rebecca Alhadeff, and country expert Professor Clark Lombardi.