Isolation Versus Globalization: The Dawn of Legal Education in Bhutan
There may be no place in the contemporary world where the global collides more acutely with the local than the Kingdom of Bhutan. On the one hand, it is keen to preserve its culture and traditions both as an end in and of itself, and as a means of underwriting social and political stability. On the other hand, it has drawn extensively on foreign inspiration and models in constructing its legal system and its inaugural law school. Given that the very idea of a legal system for dispute resolution sits uneasily with longstanding traditions of community-based mediation, the introduction of foreign models of legal education cannot help but occupy treacherous ground. Nor is there a clearer example of globalization at war with itself. The "global" does not speak with a unified voice in Bhutan: from the training of lawyers in India to the funding of legal education by US law firms, the influences are disparate, and the process of integrating and reconciling them has barely begun. The globalization of legal education in Bhutan cannot be described as imposed: it occurs free of a colonial legacy, under steady-handed, high-legitimacy local leadership. Nevertheless, the case of Bhutan highlights the extent to which globalization is not a matter of choice but of necessity. In the absence of raw materials for constructing a system of law or legal education that could plausibly described as autochthonous, resistance to foreign models is not an option, and necessity is the mother of imitation.