On the first day of the ‘Legal Education Symposium’ organized by the Ministry of Justice, 14 academicians met up the participants throughout 4 sessions. Academicians, among whom were also foreign guests, addressed legal education in scientific terms, while law school students expressed their views in the last session.
Inaugurated upon participation of Mr. Abdulhamit Gül, the Minister of Justice, Mr. Mehmet Akarca, the President of the Court of Cassation, and Zeki Yiğit, the President of the Council of State; the Legal Education Symposium continued with sessions attended by academicians and jurists.
In the first session held after the opening, “A General Outlook of Legal Education” was discussed under the presidency of Prof. Cumhur Şahin, a member of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (CJP). During the session, in which Prof. Feridun Yenisey from Bahçeşehir University Faculty of Law participated through online attendance; Prof. Bahri Öztürk from İstanbul Kültür University Faculty of Law, Prof. Mustafa Tören Yücel from Gedik University Faculty of Law, and Prof. Fatma Gül Demirel from Yıldız Technical University Faculty of Science and Letters addressed the participants among whom were also candidate judges and prosecutors.
COURTHOUSES, BAR ASSOCIATIONS AND UNIVERSITIES SHOULD PROVIDE AN INTEGRATED EDUCATION
Prof. Feridun Yenisey, participating through online attendance, stated that it had emerged as an exigence for all universities to develop technologies during and following the pandemic period. Noting that technology connecting people must also be actively used in the legal education, Yenisey said “Courthouses, bar associations and universities should provide an integrated education, they should work altogether. Practice should not get disconnected from theory, just as theory should not get disconnected from practice. Information technology and the law should be intertwined. I say, the next reform to be introduced in the law will be about the information technology”.
EVERY FACULTY OF LAW MUST ABSOLUTELY EMBODY A HEARING ROOM
Prof. Bahri Öztürk, in turn, stating that they would discuss the main problems in legal education and the solution proposals, underlined the need for a work named “Legal Education Reform Working Group” to be jointly initiated by the Ministry of Justice and the High Education Board (YÖK). Speaking of the impossibility to mention law faculties without dwelling on the academicians and quality of education, Öztürk said “Every faculty of law must absolutely embody a hearing room or have contact with courthouses. A faculty of law that is disconnected from courthouses or bar associations may not provide healthy education. A person without any link to the practice, doing desk work, only jotting down his/her dreams on paper and then pouring them on the student; I would not call him or her an academic member”.
WE NEED TO HAVE A MULTI-PERSPECTIVE APPROACH TO LEGAL EDUCATION
Prof. Mustafa Tören Yücel stated that the law did not solely consist of notions, and that all notions made sense in its connection with the human. Laying emphasis on understanding the very fact that “a person who has been convicted and placed in a penal institution is not a notion but a human”, Prof. Yücel said “We need to have a multi-perspective approach to legal education, not merely from the classic perspective of education. It is necessary to suggest a legal education after having performed a multi-aspect assessment of pre-undergraduate, undergraduate and graduate studies”.
OTTOMAN LEGACY TO BE SEPARATELY LECTURED
Prof. Fatma Gül Demirel made a presentation on “Legal Education from the Ottoman Period up to the Republic”. Informing on the works conducted by the then courthouses and faculties of law, legal trainings and the buildings used as courthouses and faculties of law, Demirel continued as follows:
“I think the legacy inherited from the Ottoman should be separately lectured during the history of law courses in particular”.
THERE IS A HUGE LACK OF LEGAL THEORY COURSE
In the second session presided over by Prof. Muharrem Özen, the Dean of Ankara University Faculty of Law; Prof. Ahmet Ulvi Türkbağ from Galatasary University Faculty of Law, Prof. Christian Becker from Europa Universitat Viadrina, and Assoc. Prof. İlker Erdem Mutlu from Hacettepe University Faculty of Law made speeches on the “Legal Education from the Comparative Law Perspective”.
Prof. Türkbağ, participating in the Symposium through online attendance, noting that method in law was a notion involving the purpose, said the following:
“Legal rules have a purpose, and that purpose leads us to a point. In order for us to reach that point, law may not just be education, but it also has to be training”.
Participating in the Symposium through online attendance, Prof. Becker informed participants on “a General Outlook of German Legal Education” and “Potential Expectations from a Successful Legal Education”. Becker stated that Germany underwent the pandemic period quite unprepared and all courses in the faculty of law were lectured online.
In his presentation, Assoc. Prof. İlker Erdem Mutlu made a comparison and assessment of courses lectured in the faculties of law in Türkiye and Europe. Stating that there was a huge lack of legal theory course, Assoc. Prof. Mutlu noted “It is expected that the notion of legal theory would spontaneously come up in the entire legal education in Türkiye. Or it is considered that students will somehow make up for it through extra-reading that they would perform in the whole education process. In the UK, on the other hand, legal theory is considered as the most essential compulsory course in the third year.”
METHODOLOGY IS OF GREAT IMPORTANCE FOR JUSTIFICATION
In the “Legal Theory and Education” session presided over by Prof. Ömer Ekmekçi, the Dean of İstanbul University Faculty of Law; Prof. Yasemin Işıktaç from İstanbul University Faculty of Law, Prof. Yaşar Salihpaşaoğlu from Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University Faculty of Law, Prof. Muharrem Kılım, the President of the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Türkiye (TİHEK), and Prof. Çetin Arslan from Hacettepe University Faculty of Law expressed their views.
Proving online attendance to the Sympoisum, Prof. Yasemin Işıktaş informed on the philosophy of law.
Prof. Yaşar Salihpaşaoğlu, in turn, underlined the need to have awareness of and understand the importance of the methodology of law and the fact that education would not exist if not for the methods. Salihpaşaoğlu continued as “Gratifying the idea and feeling of justice among the public is, at one point, convincing the persons, in respect of whom we have delivered a judgment, on the fairness of such judgment. How do we provide the justification? It is impossible in law to offer justification without knowledge of methodology”.
SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS RECORDED IN THE FIELD OF LEGAL REFORMS
Mr. Kılıç, Head of TİHEK, indicating that significant developments were recorded in the field of legal reforms, said “Within the framework of the government policy in particular, great strides have been made in relation to the legislation and institutional structuring introduced by both the Judicial Reform Strategy Paper and the Human Rights Action Plan”.
As the last speaker in the session, Prof. Çetin Arslan, pointing out the need to close those faculties of law having no or an insufficient number of academicians and the faculties not needed, said “It is necessary to increase the number and quality of the academicians in faculties of law. Otherwise, we cannot enhance the quality of law faculty graduates”.
STUDENTS SHARE THEIR OPINIONS
In the last session of the Symposium, presided over by Prof. Feridun Yenisey, law school students from various universities also attended the programme in online. During the session held on the “Legal Education from the Perspective of Students”, both academicians and students shared their opinions on legal education and exchanged views.
The Legal Education Symposium will continue with 4 sessions to be held today.
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