JSW Law welcomes historic first class of students

The Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law (JSW Law) today opened its doors to its first entering class of undergraduate students with a day-long welcome ceremony at its temporary campus in Taba. Created by Royal Command of His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo, JSW Law is the first and only law school in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

The 25 undergraduate men and women, all Grade XII graduates, will study for five years towards a qualifying Bhutanese law degree. Their education will begin with a four-week “orientation and bridging course,” designed to prepare the students for the intensive study and practice of law.

“We know that our students are smart, talented, and dedicated,” said Sonam Euden, associate dean for student services. “The purpose of the orientation and bridging course is to give them the additional tools they need to succeed in law school.” The orientation course will include introductions to Bhutanese constitutional structures and history, the nature of law and the legal practice, study skills, and life skills.

At the conclusion of orientation, the students will immediately begin their legal studies in earnest, with courses in the law of torts, philosophy, composition and rhetoric, economics, and Dzongkha grammar and vocabulary.

Although the law school will eventually move to a permanent campus in Pangbisa, Paro, until construction is completed, it will operate in leased residential facilities near its long-time administrative offices in Taba.

The law school is led by its Honourable President, HRH Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck and named in honour of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.  Its Governing Council is chaired by the Chief Justice of Bhutan, Lyonpo Tshering Wangchuk.

The entering class consists of 13 women and 12 men. They graduated from 19 different higher secondary schools in 12 Dzongkhags, including three students from Jigme Sherubling HSS in Trashigang and two apiece from Phuentsholing HSS, Punakha HSS, Sherubling Central School in Trongsa, and Ugyen Academy in Punakha.

They will be taught by a faculty composed of Bhutanese instructors and visiting and permanent lecturers from abroad. “Our curriculum and our faculty recruiting strategy are designed to create a learning environment that draws the very best experiences from around the world, while instilling in our students the finest of Bhutanese values and traditions,” said Sangay Dorjee, founding dean of JSW Law. “In this way, we intend to create the world’s first truly Bhutanese law school.”

In order to ensure equal access to all qualified students, students at JSW Law will not pay tuition or fees. Generous support has been received from the Royal Government of Bhutan, as well as the Government of India, the Austrian Development Agency, the New York-based law firm White & Case LLP, and the Karuna Foundation.

(Kuensel published a story about the welcome session is available online at http://www.kuenselonline.com/first-law-school-opens-in-taba/)

The law school community will hold its opening ceremony at the conclusion of the orientation and bridging course, on Saturday, 29 July.