“So Teacher, What is the Right Answer?” Incorporating Critical Thinking into the Mexican Legal Education: The Application of the US Model

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A. The Challenges of Justice Reform in Mexico and the Power of
Legal Education
Over the past few decades, the Mexican government has made
some commitments to improving the rule of law. Meanwhile, many foreign government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private donors, mainly from the United States (U.S.), have also provided tremendous support to help Mexico reform its justice system. Despite these efforts, corruption, injustice, and impunity are still the everyday realities and fixing Mexico’s broken rule of law remains an uphill battle. From a technical perspective, it is not easy to develop a comprehensive package of “ambitious legislative changes and constitutional amendments” as well as an effective implementation mechanism. From a financial perspective, adhering to the rule of law does not come cheap; it is inevitable that a substantial budget for reform-associated costs is needed. In addition, there are major obstacles. For instance, one major obstacle to building the rule of law in Mexico is the ruling class’ resistance to being ruled by the law for fear of losing their power and privileges.
A strong political will to implement change is crucial to driving any meaningful reforms in the justice sector. Numerous studies have been conducted with respect to the approaches that Mexico could take to overcome the technical and financial challenges. However, the political will to reform appears to be a less-discussed topic.
This article argues that legal education has a great deal of potential to create a strong political will to reshape Mexico’s justice system. According to a survey involving about 22,000 Mexican law students across the country, the public’s lack of legal knowledge is perceived as one of the main factors that contributes to injustices and violations of human rights in Mexico.
It is also one of the top factors that motivate Mexican students to study law. In a narrow sense, legal education, especially offered within the university setting, equips students with a body of legal knowledge as well as a set of practical skills that enable them to competently practice law after graduation. Its influence extends far beyond producing skilled legal professionals for the society. Legal education also plays a critical role in shaping the mindset of future legislators and policy makers, creating a will from within to promote justice reform.
In a broad sense, legal education fosters a healthy rule of law culture by raising
the public’s awareness of their rights, which ultimately drives the ruling class to make changes. Without doubt, legal education is an essential element in repairing the broken justice system in Mexico, and deserves more attention than ever before.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
JournalInter-American Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


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